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25 Jun 2018

Quick Tips for the First Meeting with a Prospective Client

Resist the urge to start working the case right away.

By Matt Starosciak,

The way an attorney views an initial consultation is often very different than the way a prospective client does. And the latter is much more important. A short story will illustrate this critical point.

Karen, a former client of my consulting firm, is a very skilled, big-city criminal defense attorney who has been licensed for more than 30 years. She is an excellent lawyer and has obtained great results for her clients. She is, however, very average when it comes to the first meeting with a prospective client. Her methodology is to sit down, make two minutes of small talk, and then start asking the prospect about the facts of the case. She is incredibly thorough, covering every aspect of the arrest, officers’ actions, time, location, and potential witnesses. She basically gathers every piece of information she needs to put on a great defense case. And often times, she does just that.

Unfortunately, Karen also completely fails to view the meeting from the perspective of the person across from her. This is a common mistake, especially among more experienced attorneys. It’s so easy for lawyers to forget that most people meet with an attorney less than three times in their lives. It’s incredibly intimidating, stressful, embarrassing, and generally filled with a ton of uncertainty. And I’m not talking about the process of handling their legal matter… I’m talking solely about the first meeting!

If you want to build a strong bond of trust (and money) with a prospective client, resist the urge to start working the case right away. Take a moment to explain to your prospect at the start of the initial meeting what will be covered during your time together that day. Assure them that the starting point will be their goals, as well as what concerns them the most. The chances are you will see an incredible look of relief come over their face, and the satisfaction of knowing that everything you do for them moving forward started from a positive interaction. Best of all, what that client tells you about his or her fears and objectives will be a pot of gold thirty minutes later when you start discussing what you can do for them… and how expensive it will be.

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