What Clients Really Want

In a sales workshop for lawyers that I recently facilitated, a participant “role-played” a potential client. Together, we developed a scenario based on a business owner he knew well.

During this role-play, his fellow workshop participants sat one by one with the potential client to have a business conversation. Their goal was to be retained as his lawyer.

His goal as the client…well, he didn’t really know what his goal was. In character, he had a lot of potential legal issues that he saw as business concerns, without recognizing the legal implications.

After the role plays were over, I asked him what it felt like being in the client’s chair.  His response – “I wanted to feel like they cared about ME.”   Turns out, while he did care about his own clients, he did not fully recognize the importance to the client of feeling cared about until he sat in the client’s chair, himself.

That discussion reminded me of a program I co-led at a law school with the former General Counsel of a major US company. What did this executive want from his outside counsel?  To “feel the love."  His words.  And NO – there’s no oxymoron here.  Lawyers have feelings too!   He meant – show me that you value the relationship in addition to providing superior service.

Competence and creativity and even superior service are just the ticket in the door. Without that, the professional likely wouldn’t be or stay at the table. But caring can be the great differentiator, and a key to being a trusted advisor.

Changing chairs, even just to practice or see what it feels like, makes empathy come alive and shows what clients really want. 

Blawg Review #150: Updated!

This piece from today’s Wall Street Journal Law Blog post by Dan Slater about the 60 Minutes story on legal ethics broke after the Blawg Review went up, but I think it’s important enough that it deserves a place in the review, alongside Howard Bashman’s original post. The commentary makes for relevant and compelling reading.

Welcome to this week’s presentation of Blawg Review, the 150th issue of the blog carnival for everyone interested in law.

I was introduced to blog carnivals by my friend and colleague David Maister, one of the co-authors of The Trusted Advisor book. David hosted Blawg Review #76 and #131 and agreed with me that a “carnival of trust” would be interesting as well and, hopefully, just as popular.

The famously anonymous editor of Blawg Review most graciously offered his experience to me as a mentor during the early development of the Carnival of Trust. I hosted the first two editions here on Trust Matters. My new blog carnival mentor at Blawg Review hosted the third. Since then, the Carnival of Trust has been hosted by David Maister, Steve Cranford, John Crickett, Ford Harding, Michelle Golden, and Duncan Bucknell. So, it’s with a debt of gratitude to lawyers who blog that I’m pleased to be hosting Blawg Review #150 on Trust Matters this week.

All lawyers, whatever their specialties in law, strive to be trusted advisors. In books, articles, and posts on this blog, I’ve written extensively on matters of trust, including topics of special interest to lawyers. I encourage those of you new to my site to explore my resources on building trust.

Disclaimer: this issue of Blawg Review includes subjects of interest to everyone, not only lawyers! While I’m not an attorney, I’ve discovered many interesting and helpful blog posts by lawyers, which I’m pleased to present in this Blawg Review #150. So here we go.

Raymond Ward has an excellent quotation from George Orwell advocating clear language. I might add that speaking and writing clearly and without jargon goes a long way to establish trust.

Sheryl Sisk Schelin posts Seven Days of Inspiration, which reviews non-legal websites that are among her favorites.

Kevin O’Keefe shows us nine ways to find the top legal blog in niches. Tip: it works for niches outside the law just as well.

Marc Randazza considers a proposal for the “Internet Notary” to harness the power of the free market to correct irregularities in the marketplace of ideas.

Jeremy Phillips couldn’t bring himself to write up the latest chapter in the litigation saga concerning the “Budweiser” name, so he solicited a few “buds” to compose Budweiser-themed haikus.

Those who appreciate real haiku will not want to miss this retired antitrust lawyer, David Giacalone, who writes snowjob: lessons from the other big vote.

Jim Chen revisits a previous topic and suggests again that law schools should do more to teach commercial law. Who could argue with that? Find out.

Gordon Smith discussed whether college-bound athletes can sue over rescinded scholarship offers. A good test of commonsense vs. the law, or so it seemed to me.

In the California gay marriage case, Dale Carpenter doubts the court will find for its advocates.

Mike Masnick, Tim Armstrong, and Kevin Donovan all discuss whether the decline of Digital Rights Management diminished the authority of the DMCA.

Eugene Volokh had another strong week with posts concerning the imposition of women-only hours at Harvard’s athletic facilities and a California court’s attack on home-schooling.

Kip Esquire takes the libertarian view on the ruling of the California Court: No Right to Homeschool.

Kevin Underhill nicely captures the comedy and pathos in a dramatic doughnut-related crime in Oregon this week. Some lawyers specialize in droll humor, and I love ‘em. Kevin is one.

Scott Greenfield says Some Alternatives to Sentencing Are Just Plain Bad.

Casey lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. He is a law student and works in politics; his name has been changed to protect his identity in this case. His story about what it’s like to spend five grim days in the D.C. jail is awful, but other inmates from the DC Jail could tell worse. “Casey” raises some pretty big social issues in a compelling way.

E.L. Lipman mourns the loss of a mentor-in-chief, William F. Buckley, Jr.

Judah Zuger at Changing the Court, a chronicle of how a group of planners and practitioners are attempting to change the Bronx court system’s approach to low-level criminal offending, tells a heartwarming story about youth giving back to youth.

I’ve always loved the Billboard Liberation Front’s unique brand of civil disobedience, but this time they’ve outdone themselves,” writes Kevin Jon Heller. Comments ensue.

Eric Turkewitz reports that Allstate Slammed With RICO Charge Over Sham Medical Exams, and A Doctor, Sued In Insurance Company RICO Suit, Responds To The Charge anonymously in the next post.

Jaya Ramji-Nogales discusses Renting a Womb: Outsourcing’s Next Frontier.

Douglas McNabb reports that the Untied Arab Emirates passed a law against human trafficking.

Peter Black links to a video that explains Twitter to those who don’t get it.

Barry Barnett tells a story of “Settlement Negotiations on Trial”.

Stewart Weltman gives the counter-argument to the leverage-is-good law firm model in a post he titles “News Flash – A Legal Consultant Gets It All Wrong When It Comes To How Lawyers Can Best Serve Their Clients“. Know what? He’s dead right.

Holden Oliver quotes the firm’s name partner, Dan Hull, who advises “Watch your clients’ money like it’s yours.”

Dan Solove considers Facebooks banishment of David Lat and due process. Who owns the right to social rights in privately held social networks?

Deven Desai asks Who Owns Your Emails, Blog Posts, or Facebook Pages? How About You?

William reports on a Night out on the town for Ricky Raccoon.

Ricky Gervais Inspires Copyright Opinion
is discussed at length in an excellent blog post by William Patry, Google’s Senior Copyright Counsel. He quotes a fine judge, who has this description about the putative inclusion of IP within some corporate training materials: “They are aggressively vapid; hundreds of pages filled with generalizations, platitudes, and observations of the obvious.” Yup, that would be pretty right.

John Wallbillich looks under the covers of Legal Directories: Insight or Indulgence? Are Legal Directories the equivalent of the Yellow Pages? Or are they high-touch opportunities or competitive differentiation?

Apparently there is a national movement supporting the rights of students to pack heat on college campuses,” writes Dan Filler.

Howard Bashman reports on a “26-Year Secret Kept Innocent Man In Prison; Lawyers Tell 60 Minutes They Were Legally Bound From Revealing Secret” .

Jim Maule writes with authority about Using Taxation for Non-Tax Purposes. You’ve heard this argument before—but not with this data.

Brenda Cossman considers when government funding becomes censorship.

Duncan Bucknell, who’s hosting the March 2008 Carnival of Trust, has this week’s roundup of IP Think Tank Global Week in Review.

R. David Donoghue at the Chicago IP Litiation Blog, which will host the May editon of the Carnival of Trust, has More on Toy Trains: Should Derivative Works be Registerable Without Permission?

Brett Trout looks at Patent Lawyer Porn.

Non-traditional lawyer Steve Cranford makes the case that “Committees Can Kill Even the Greatest Idea” is one of the Laws of Branding.

Former GC Anita Campbell, discusses Why A Positive Mental Attitude Matters During Recession.

Bruce MacEwen at Adam Smith, Esq. considers the problem of attrition at law firms: is it process or passion?

“So now comes the test. You’re a professional firm, with a variety of practice areas or target industries. Due to turmoil in the markets, business is down (or is forecast to be down) in one or more of our major areas. What do you do?” asks David Maister. You know the answer: now try to defend it.

Thanks to everyone who submitted or recommended posts for Blawg Review #150, especially to Colin Samuels and Diane Levin, who each sent me several recommendations but not their own excellent posts that I’ve cleverly hidden in the links to their names. A special thanks to the selfless editor of Blawg Review, whoever he is, for all the help and guidance with this and the Carnival of Trust.

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blog posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

Would You Buy a Used Car From This Scientist? Not If You’re a Scientist!

Peter Calamai is Science Writer for the Toronto Star. He recently wrote about the demise of society’s trust in its scientists. He’s got a lot of statistics that ought to cause scientists great concern about the level of trust in scientists.

And, as he says:

After two days of provocative ideas and spirited exchanges at an international gathering recently in Toronto, British museum curator Robert Bud neatly summed up the collective wisdom.

"The scientists are terrified."

Calamai’s most cogent point may be this:

Scientists might ask themselves about the erosion of the traditional trust relationships among researchers, who once readily exchanged things like specialized strains of mice or reagents, custom chemicals used in experiments.

Increasingly such exchanges are now circumscribed by material transfer agreements, complex legal documents that spell out details like liability and indemnification, due diligence and standards for care. Some even feature "reach-through" clauses, guaranteeing the supplier of the materials a share in any subsequent commercialization because of subsequent research done elsewhere.

Use of these agreements is exploding. In 1998, the University of Toronto handled about 30. This year, +*officials have reviewed 170.  Similar growth at U.S. universities prompted this wry workshop comment from Notre Dame’s Mirowski: "Why should the public trust science when it is becoming apparent that scientists less and less trust each other?"

Why indeed.

Let’s break this down. There’s a bigger trend going on here—two, actually.

One trend is the fragmentation of big things into little modules. The other is the re-connection of modules into big things again.

Take business processes. Companies used to have HR departments. Now they have many specific HR sub-processes, which can be outsourced, which in turn requires standardization. Big things broken into little; little things reconfigured into big. Now companies can configure their own HR departments.

Take music. The record business used to record artists on vinyl and sell the product through physical stores. Now artists, recording, and marketing are going off in dozens of directions. A big business broken into little parts; little parts reconfiguring into dozens of designs.

Take software, movies, travel, training, banking. All used to be made of monolithic structures. All can now be configured in myriad ways.

But here’s the catch. The main way we reconfigure modules in the world is by contract, in some kind of market.

That means transactions. That means costs, complexity, and lawyers. It means every little module has to be priced, defined, tracked, and contracted.

The trend has hit absurd levels in many places by now.

• How many levels of automated phone answering software can you stand before exploding?
• Sampling of a half-second of music is subject to copyright law so we can write royalty checks to dozens of people from thousands of users;
• And now scientists don’t share because we need to prospectively track the rights to thinks that might be invented in the future.

This is what happens when a new technical/organizational reality meets an outmoded ideology.

The new reality is the ability to connect everything and everyone to everything and everyone else.

The outmoded ideology is the idea that everything is property—and is therefore definable, trackable, assignable and salable.

Put those two together, and something’s got to give. Eventually, it will be the outmoded ideology that gives. The question is, how long will the forces of resistance hold it back?

How long can we live with outmoded laws governing intellectual property, water rights and patents?

How long can we put up with outmoded business models that define relationships by boundaries rather than by bonds?

How long can we live with corporate and social governance models that can’t figure out how to make individuals accountable to the public good, and present generations accountable to their heirs?

Chief Seattle, in 1854, supposedly said, “The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.”

With a little updating, that’s exactly the thinking we need. The more complicated and topheavy the contract/ownership model gets, the more economically superior becomes a model based on trust and mutual interests.

Flaky? Not at all. Read, for example, a Nobel Prize economist’s lecture here, or read a Harvard Business Review article here.

Trust is not flaky, it is commonsense. It’s just not common. Yet.