One of the most difficult issues to convey to a lawyer is the reality that the highfalutin talk so valued among legal colleagues is often frowned upon when digested by the general public. This understanding is critical, not only for interpersonal dealings with clients, but in the dialogue that will determine whether people calling you will ever become a client to begin with.
Among our legal peers we grow accustomed to dialogue that relates with one another. Whether in negotiations between lawyers, or conversations within practice groups, etc. whether subconsciously or not we as lawyers are aiming to impress other lawyers. We want respect among our colleagues and aim to convey the power and authority that comes with a knowledge base of legal understanding that may intimidate those we seek to dominate.
Toward this end, lawyers who are able to confound their opponents with legal insight that their opponent may not possess will often win the day. As a result, lawyers are too frequently encouraged to perpetuate a dialogue of legalese that may serve their purposes within pre trial negotiation among lawyers, but develops horrible habits in regard to interpersonal communication between lawyer and layman.
One must always remember that no sustained lawyer success, and most importantly, income, will be generated without the verbal skills necessary to convince a person untrained in the legal profession to hire you. Potential criminal, personal injury, bankruptcy clients, etc., will all ultimately come to you from all walks of life. Frequently the average person has little interest within your initial discussions as to how many words you can spout that he or she cannot understand. In fact, such talk will inevitably turn off your potential client revenue stream. These people want to know that you can relate to them. That you speak their language and understand their plight. However, this alone is not enough.
It amazes me how often attorneys are bewildered at their inability to close the deal with clients within an initial client meeting. Why? Because insulated from the working world of the common man for so long, many lawyers lose the talents needed to meet the target objective of the non lawyer client sitting before you.
When becoming a legal entrepreneur you are initially not seeking to satisfy a law partner, colleague or judge. Where the rubber meets the road for you as an enterprising legal professional is your ability to satisfy and meet the objectives of a potential paying client who is deciding whether to retain you as their lawyer. Ensconced within law firms or perpetual legal seminars, lawyers must always prioritize the continuing legal education that counts; how to persuasively communicate and relate to other human beings who are not lawyers. Without such skills your continued devotion to cle training and seminar participation will be rendered financially irrelevant.
Clients coming to you will have one of two objectives depending upon legal practice; either they want you to make them money/save them money or they need you to preserve their liberty in one form or another. By understanding this reality you can begin to learn to speak the language of success to the common man who is feeling you out as to whether you are the right lawyer to get the job done for them.
Everything you do and everything you say must be geared toward meeting that objective for a potential client. It matters less whether you have a modest law office, or a degree from a law school other lawyers would scoff at. If a lawyer either has the reputation of making people money or saving them money, or the reputation to preserve their essential freedoms, all that is left will be the ability to sell that reality to your consumer public in order to build up your necessary stable of clients to allow a legal practice to survive.
Marketing and advertising must understand these client objectives. A Harvard educated lawyer who appears unwilling or unable to communicate in a manner that understands these client objectives will inevitably lose out to other lawyers who do. In short, people are not most impressed with where you went to law school, they without fail are more impressed with whether you can you make them money or preserve their freedom. Your ability as a lawyer to communicate this to a potential client will be the barometer as to whether your advertising marketing strategy will get the phone to ring. From there it is your verbal proficiency that will determine whether you get them walking through your door for the ultimate goal of closing the deal with a retained client you will later aim to satisfy.