You remember how it feels. That moment when you you’ve passed the bar exam and can start representing clients. There is a surge of excitement and energy that possesses your being and you head out into the world of legal representation filled to the brim with passion for your work and clients. Unfortunately, that feeling quickly begins to wane as time passes. As we gain more experience and efficiency, we as lawyers lose some of that passion we first felt upon beginning our careers. Unfortunately, this is not a good trade-off and may result in losing business rather than gaining it.
How, you may ask, can gaining experience and efficiency possibly result in losing business rather than gaining it? The answer is very simple and can be seen through a simple comparison of the fresh, new lawyer and that of the veteran practitioner.
How New Lawyers Operate
Let’s look first at how a new lawyer operates. This is the lawyer who has received a pass on his or her bar exam barely an hour ago, or maybe just a few days, weeks or months ago. This lawyer is zealous about his work and empathetic toward his clients. There is nothing he won’t do to serve and protect his clients, no time he won’t sacrifice to talk with them, fight for them, or work for them. At the end of the case, he has probably resolved the case satisfactorily; he didn’t do an amazing job, but he got it done. Most importantly, his client is not just satisfied, but is overjoyed at the results of and effort expended on his case simply because this fresh-faced lawyer put in the energy and work that comes with the novelty of the profession.
How Seasoned Lawyers Operate
Now let’s look at the seasoned or veteran lawyer. This lawyer has been practicing for five, ten, maybe twenty years. She is so efficient and experienced at what she does that she can practically do it in her sleep. She knows how to work cases brilliantly without spending unnecessary time on endless client meetings and calls. Her results may be more than satisfactory; they may be beyond expectation. However, this client, while satisfied, leaves feeling nothing more about the results of the case than that mediocre sense of fulfillment.
Compared side-to-side, the new lawyer and the veteran both have their strengths and weaknesses. On a surface level, you might simply exclaim that there is no comparison; of course the veteran lawyer is the better! She has experience, she’s efficient and her results are infinitely superior. What is there to argue about?
Well, let me tell you something. What I didn’t mention is this: when the client represented by the new lawyer leaves, he or she is so ecstatic about the entire process that the client is more likely to write a review on the lawyer’s website or social media page. Additionally, this client is more likely to tell his or her friends, colleagues and family about the great job his lawyer did on his case.
As for the client represented by the veteran lawyer, he or she is certainly content with the results of his or her case, but beyond that there was no connection between himself and the lawyer, no empathy and no rapport. This client is far less likely to write any reviews or share his experience; in fact, you can count on him forgetting you almost as soon as he has walked out your door. End of story.
So What is the Lesson Here?
If you wish to build your business and reputation, you must put in more than the minimal effort in building your client relationships. You may be a veteran lawyer or at least more experienced than the fresh-faced newbie straight out of law school; however, if you lose that passion and energy that comes with being new, you are also losing client relationships and, ultimately, business.
So no matter how long you have been practicing, no matter how drained and disillusioned you feel about your work, remember the lesson of the newbie lawyer and pour yourself, body and soul, into your work each and every day. It will make the difference in your results and in your business.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h