In the old days, you might have had a “family lawyer”. This was a person whom you knew and whom you would consult first with any legal issue. If that person could not help, he or she (in those days, it was more likely a he) would steer you in the right direction to get help.
But practicing law became more of a business long ago, and the idea of a lawyer chatting with a client — and not billing — is now a bit quaint. So where do people in that pre-client phase go to chat? Good question. One place is to the bookstore — or its digital equivalent, Amazon. And to digital media. Forbes, for example, offers advice on what to do if you are about to get sued.
Here is the takeaway from this. Forbes marketing folks are smart. They don’t run articles unless they think people will want them. So it is relatively convincing that people are looking for this type of input. What do I do before I start shelling out big money for legal representation. Is reading a Forbes article enough? It may be a start, but I would argue that there is a lot more market room here. The question is who wants to fill that space. Global law will be tracking that.
Back in the old days, CRM (client relations management) meant rolodex management perhaps a newsletter and seminars on law changes. Well this has changed. CRM systems are evolving rather quickly. How about law firm adaption? Lexus Nexus has done an interesting study. No surprise here. Law firms report strong interest but mixed results. The main issue appears to be getting “buy in”.
Over the years, I have found that clients come to lawyers with rather unrealistic expectations. Some, for example, are shocked when they find out that they cannot be guaranteed to receive “justice”. They balk at the thought that litigation, for example, will be expensive, time consuming and risky. How could it e? But even sophisticated clients sometimes end up with poor lawyer relationships.
There are ways to avoid this and the internet is loaded with “tips” for managing lawyers. These can help. But on the most basic level, clients must grasp that — no matter what one might wish — law is a business. What i mean is that all private lawyers operate within a business model. That model is for the benefit of the lawyer rather than the client. Private lawyering is not a public service.
Thus, I am surprised quite often when sophisticated corporate clients engage lawyers in jurisdictions accepting high fees and poor results. Their lawyers blame the system 8for example obtuse judges or corrupt regulators) — as if they were not part of the system.
In the “client interests” page on this blog, I will be collecting resources that empower clients to handle this strategic problem better. Post a comment to ask for more.