How is a lawyer like a doctor, a therapist or a golden retriever?
The other day, I was listening to an interesting podcast about
the efficacy of management consulting. Does management consulting
really have an impact on the bottom line of a business? The short
answer is "yes," although it is hard to prove. In many ways, the
same can be said for the work that lawyers do in helping their
clients to avoid risk. Most of us would agree that good
lawyers bring value to their clients, but that value can be hard to
During the podcast, one of the guests talked about how a
consultant is like a doctor, a therapist and a golden retriever.
After hearing the podcast, I realized that the same could be said
for a good lawyer. It may not always be possible to measure the
value of avoiding a risk. But a lawyer who acts like a doctor, a
therapist and a golden retriever is probably doing a good
Like a good doctor, a good lawyer can connect with his/her client.
He/she understands the client's underlying needs and not simply the
client's "presenting" needs. Good lawyering involves good
professional judgment. A skilled attorney knows how to dig below
the surface to uncover the "real" issues. He/she doesn't simply
take what the client says at face value.
Like a good therapist, a good lawyer is a great listener. A good
therapist will ask a client a set of questions which helps the
client to achieve a self-discovery. Similarly, a good lawyer helps
the client to make decisions; but he/she recognizes that
ultimately, it is the client who owns the decision.
Finally, like a golden retriever, a good attorney forms trusted
relationships with his/her clients (okay, this one is a bit of a
stretch). By forming trusted relationships, a good attorney is able
to gather all of the information he/she needs from the client in
order to render good legal advice. In addition, a lawyer who builds
trusted relationships with referral sources is more successful in
growing his/her law practice.
Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, president, Seckler Legal
Consulting and Coaching.
Published November 29, 2012
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