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Don’t Treat Your Lawyer Like a Button

Recently, User Interface Engineering posted an insightful article on how a company generated additional revenue by adding a single button to its website. The company had been requiring customers to provide an email address and create a password before making a purchase. The thinking was that the registration would allow new and returning customers to store their information on the website, so they would not have to reenter the information every time they wanted to make a new purchase. button-blue_benji_park_01

Turns out however, that requiring registration before purchase was turning off a lot of new and returning customers. The customers were fine with providing their credit card numbers and home addresses, but when it came to providing an email address and password, many decided they would rather buy elsewhere. According to one customer, “I’m not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.”

Upon realizing how its registration process was being perceived, the company added a single button to the website. This button allowed customers to bypass the registration process, enter all of the purchase information from scratch and make a purchase. And the result? An additional $300 million in sales the following year.

While the “I don’t need a receipt for my doughnut” mentality is fine for most transactions, it is not the best way to find the best lawyer for you. You want the relationship. Unfortunately, it is a little more difficult to find a lawyer with whom you can develop a relationship with, than randomly picking names out of the phonebook.

When I provide a referral to another lawyer, I typically provide multiple names. All of them can do the job, but I advise the clients to interview each of them and select the lawyer with whom they feel most comfortable. If they like the lawyer, and the lawyer likes them, there is a far greater chance the discussions will be more open and fruitful. As the relationship develops, the lawyer learns subtleties about the client’s means and goals which will help tailor the legal work to that particular client.

The internet has programmed us to be wary of divulging personal information. This, combined with the high hourly rates charged by the top rated lawyers encourage less openness and a poorer attorney/client relationship. So how do you find the best lawyer for you? Get recommendations from people you trust. Collect several names and research them online. Eliminate the ones you do not feel would not be a good relationship match.

It may surprise you, but one of the primary benefits of this blog is that it causes some potential clients NOT to contact me. Perhaps they do not like my stance on a particular position, or even my sense of humor (such as it is). Over the years, I have determined both those clients and I are better off for not having met. It is not that they are unreasonable clients, or that I am a bad lawyer. It is simply that we likely may not have worked well together. On the other hand, those few clients who have read my blog and still want to hire me often turn into terrific clients, simply because we work well together.

Good lawyers are not buttons. They are advisers, defenders, mediators and most importantly, people. If you go looking for a button to bypass these benefits, you risk losing the most important aspect of the attorney/client relationship.

Brett Trout

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