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January 09, 2008


James Mason


This is one of the best articles I've ever read, not just because your analysis is spot on, which it is, but also because it articulates a couple of things that we try to talk about with clients, but also that we're trying to get law firms to wrap their heads around. For fun, let's go over them again:

1. Managing Client Expectations: One of the most important issues, and hard hard HARD to do. It requires serious upfront commitment, and you have to ask clients tough questions, including the all important: "What do YOU want, there, Mr. or Ms. Client?" And most of us forget to ask.

2. Articulating what we CAN do versus what we CANNOT do: Not the same thing as above, but definitely kissin' cousins. Like guaranteeing a result. I won't belabor the point. You get it.

3. Defining Value from both sides. Like the GAL alluded to, Clients must understand that providers bring value to the equation, even if they've danced at that shindig before. I think GAL's client is lucky they had GAL, and not me, because I would have explained in not very ladylike terms exactly why they should pay for my experience and expertise despite the fact that I might have hoed that row before. On the other hand, my father will, I'm sure, be pleased to hear that his son doesn't often express himself in ladylike terms. Things even out.

4. Most important, when you realize that you're stuck with a problem client (we like to say that THEY got stuck with a problem US), the correct response is to do just EXACTLY what GAL did. . .return the fee, apoologise that the service was not up to their expectations, explain that CLEARLY you're just not their kind of provider, and, in recognition of that fact, you are recommending the following providers, who, you believe, will be much more in line with their expectations, and more than capable of meeting their needs.

5. And always, after you have ceased to be a problem to a client like that, cleanse your aura with two shots of the very best tequila your Mortgage will allow. If you are in recovery, you may substitute two shots of VERY STRONG Reconstituted Powdered Soft Drink Mix, as long as they are both VERY STRONG.

One more point, if I may. I agree that lawyers need to do a better job of communicating value, but lawyers need to do a better job of communicating, period. I don't think it's an issue of analyzing the benefits at all. But I think that lawyers need to learn to start saying "This is what's in it for you. . . ." This article, and the one referenced, are both good places to start learning how.

Warm Regards,

James E. Mason
Managing Partner
Mason|McRight Legal Recruiting

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