We are relationship based lawyers and have a unique approach to issue resolution. Every issue, regardless of how small or big, whether revenue producing or legal roadblock, has a resolution. It is a matter of defining goals, using knowledge and resources to come up with a resolution. Unfortunately, in the practice of law, I have seen many that have what I perceive to be a misunderstanding of the client’s goals in an effort to create efficiency in the practice of law. Efficiency could mean that litigation is drawn out with a nuclear approach or is resolved quickly and easily.
Delegation to lower level employees has a place. The lead attorney must drown in the facts and details in order to resolve any issue. As compared to a rock bed, I will turn over every rock and understand the composite of each one.
You should always remember that if you unnecessarily resolve cases where you are not wrong, then you become an easy target. This is always a matter of fit for the client and coming up with a resolution. Far too often, I have seen lawyers treat files as “dead whale.” A dead beached whale is something that a village can live off of for quite a long time and unfortunately the appearance of dead whales to lawyers occurs all too often. This is true whether it is a matter of litigation or the startup of a new business. When I speak at seminars, I remind lawyers that closed files make more money than open files. Lawyers should never purposely take a file and turn it into a long term project where there is no resulting benefit to the client. Not only does this tie down the client’s resources, but it ties down the lawyer’s resources unnecessarily and without purpose. Sometimes long projects may be necessary, but it should be purposeful without adequate alternative.
We strive to have an understanding of our client’s needs, goals and all aspects of their business. It is the importance of getting into these details and turning over every stone that allows us to be a goal-oriented firm. In knowing these details, having this understanding and with communicating with the client, there can be predictive results. These predictive results will have a wide range, depending upon the road taken, but the destination of each chosen path can be within the realm of predictive result. Of course, there are always surprises in every deal and all litigation, but the predictive results can be narrowed by having a thorough understanding of the client’s needs and a “client care” attitude by the law firm. What is keeping you from obtaining your goals and what keeps you up in the middle of the night? These are the questions that we want to know from our clients in our representation.
To have predictive results, the lawyer must invest in the time necessary to understand the facts, needs and goals. It may appear expensive, but this value is immeasurable in obtaining predictive results.
Our relationships with our clients are multi-facet. Many are used to á la carte business services which are basically pay as you go and pay for need. We have some clients that are strictly on an as-needed basis. (This requires investing time and effort to catch back up to understand client’s needs and goals in those situations). There are other opportunities for clients to have an ongoing relationship.
We have three preferred methods that we offer to our clients. A priority client is one that can call when there is trouble and knows that we will be there to assist. A private client is a client with whom we have frequent contact and meet quarterly to address all their individual business needs. A third type of client is a general counsel client where we are available 24/7 and meet frequently with these clients, including all aspects of their needs. With general counsel clients, we are able to address all of the known and unknown potential legal issues and pitfalls in every aspect of our client’s individual and business life.
While there are truly four bands of service which includes the three preferred methods, one band of service involves just paying as you go and as necessary. The preferred band of services provide varying discounts for other services which can in the long run be substantial cost saving.
Three primary bands of service are the priority client, the private client and the general counsel client. We tailor plans to the client’s needs.
Stephen Fuller is the managing partner of Fuller Sloan LLC and has practiced in business litigation and consulting for 37 years and has over 25 years representation of the founder of one of the largest sit-down casual restaurants in America. For more information, email Mr. Fuller.