The Firm’s Expectations Of Its Clients
A consequence of the Firm’s philosophy as expressed in “The Firm’s Goals In Each Client Relationship” is that once a prospective Client has decided it wants to choose the Firm as its legal counsel, the Firm goes through a conscious process of deciding whether the Firm wants to represent the prospective Client. The Firm feels that there are only certain types of Clients to whom it is prepared to make the kind of commitments discussed in “The Firm’s Goals In Each Client Relationship”. The Firm’s evaluation of prospective Client relationships and existing Client relationships is not a casual one.
Advice that the Firm often gives to its Clients that own and operate businesses is that the Client at the end of each year should evaluate its customers and make conscious decisions about which customers it did not want to have as customers for the coming year. The Firm goes through that process at the end of every year with respect to its Clients — evaluating which Clients, if any, did not continue to fit the expectations described below. The Firm would like to think that the Firm would not continue an otherwise unsatisfactory Client relationship because of the amount of fees the Client pays the Firm.
What are some of the questions the Firm uses in deciding whether a prospective Client or an existing Client is the Firm’s kind of Client and is responsive to the Firm’s expectations with respect to the relationship? The following are some of those questions.
The expectations of the Firm are reflected in the questions:
- Does the Client share the Firm’s goal of a professional relationship?
- Does the prospective Client feel lawyers and law firms are fungible?
- Does the prospective Client give the same attention and response to the Firm’s invoice that the Client asks the Firm to give to its problems and issues? For perspective, Clients request immediate attention. The Firm requests that its invoices receive immediate attention and are paid by five days after receipt.
- Is the prospective Client prepared to make the time available to the Firm to help the Firm understand the Client’s business? The Firm asks each Client to meet each quarter over breakfast, lunch, or dinner to review operations of the past quarter and for the coming quarter.
- Does the prospective Client accord its legal professionals the same high respect that it would expect theFirm to accord the Client and its management team?
- Does the prospective Client feel it knows the answers to everything? Can the prospective Client accept that the Firm does not know everything?
- Is the prospective Client looking for an attorney relationship or an attorney – counselor relationship? In each Client relationship, the Firm wants to be more than the attorney. The Firm wants to be the counselor to the Client.
- Does the prospective Client conduct its business and its business relationships ethically?
- Does the prospective Client always need “the entire loaf” in resolving any issue with a third party?
- Will the prospective Client promote a relationship that invites the Firm to share the non-confidential experiences of other clients and its strategic, financial and business advice in addition to its legal counsel?
- Does the prospective Client share the Firm’s goal of constantly trying to be better tomorrow than it is today?
- Does the prospective Client know how to say, “please” and how to say, “thank you”?
- Does the prospective Client feel that its checks buy the Firm’s loyalty and commitment?
- Will the prospective Client communicate when there are problems in the relationship and care enough to let the Firm know how it can be more effective for and better serve the Client?
- Does the Client take the Firm and its Goals for granted?
- To reduce the amount of time wasted by the Firm in debating and arguing issues with legal counsel for the other party, when and where appropriate, does the Client have the time, energy, and interest to resolve issues principal to principal.
- Each year will the Client sit down with the Firm and review constructively the relationship and the Firm’s performance as to “The Firm’s Goals In Each Client Relationship.”
- Every several years at the Firm’s expense, will the Client through its industry memberships facilitate at no expense to the Client the Firm attending a principal trade show or industry gathering for the Client’s business.
- When the Client is finished with important or helpful industry newsletters or articles in industry publications, will the Client forward those to the Firm to increase the Firm’s understanding of the Client’s industry?