“Why is Washington, D.C. full of lawyers and New Jersey full of toxic waste sites?” Jersey got first choice.
“What’s the difference between a dead snake in the road and a dead lawyer in the road?” There are skid marks in front of the snake.
There are millions of lawyer jokes. So why is there animosity in general towards lawyers? Well we could go with an easy explanation – you only hire a lawyer if you have a serious problem, and one side of the problem is going to lose. Thus, half the clients will be dissatisfied with their lawyer. It is human nature to blame the lawyer instead of the judge, jury or one’s self for getting into a legal issue. Also, lawyers are trained to deal with other people’s problems every day. We are skeptics, independent, speak in legalese, see the world differently and often lack social skills. We work on urgent matters and are usually paid on productivity so we have to put in long hours just to bill a normal work day. It is intense work with little positive feedback from the client regardless of the results.
So what is the point of this article? While seemingly not human at times, lawyers are human. If you like your lawyer, you will be more comfortable following their advice. You will engage in less second-guessing and not generate doubt by seeking opinions of other lawyers or non-lawyers who are not familiar with your case. So a word to the wise: if you don’t like your lawyer, perhaps you have the wrong lawyer. For those clients who view attorneys only as an expense or a commodity, you likely do not care that your attorney is working grueling hours for you, is trying to please you and get the best result for you. Being human, your attorney will eventually view you similarly as the way you view him or her – expendable. You may want to like your lawyer.
On the other side of the coin, each lawyer should remember that you are your client’s representative and counselor on an issue that is all-consuming to the client. The client does not want to hear about how busy you are or that you have other clients. Your client’s problem is the only problem your client wants you to care about. Do you think a client hired you because the client knows you are THE best attorney available? No, the client cannot look at a line-up of attorneys on the Internet and identify the best attorney. No one can. But the client knows if they like you. Put another way, your IQ may be less important than your EQ (emotional quotient). If you really care about your client’s problems, the client is more likely to care about you. This type of client is likely to stay with you, win or lose. This is the client you want.
If you have any questions on this topic, please contact James Hoffman at
ABOUT JAMES HOFFMAN
James Hoffman is a corporate, bankruptcy and litigation attorney and the Chair of the Creditors Rights, Restructuring and Bankruptcy Practice. Mr. Hoffman focuses his practice in the areas of representing various business types, particularly closely held businesses and has a broad base of experience representing creditors, trustees and debtors in bankruptcy cases and litigation. In his business practice, Mr. Hoffman represents businesses through their life cycles from creation, to formulating employment and shareholders agreements, creating contracts, collecting debts and closing the business through sale or liquidation. Mr. Hoffman has represented nine different Chapter 7 trustees, and several Chapter 11 trustees and receivers. Thus, he is “a lawyer’s lawyer.” He has been involved in handling a broad range of litigation before state courts, including disputes involving complex commercial litigation, breach of contract actions, and collection actions.
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