On choosing a house. Or a lawyer.
by Jamison Koehler on June 23, 2020
“You know we are going to buy this house, right?”
This is what I tell our realtor as we stand outside the first property on our tour. We are meeting the realtor for the first time. “My wife and I are a realtor’s dream,” I say. “We always buy the very first place we visit.”
There is much truth to this. My wife and I have a habit of either buying or renting the first property we see. Knowing this, I always make sure I really like the first place on our schedule.
“It’s great. Let’s take it.” This is what my wife says whenever we walk into a place. Then she wants to cancel the rest of our tour. I always insist on completing the schedule. We dutifully visit each place. (Sometimes I have to do this part alone.) We analyze things. We discuss the pros and cons. Then we put an offer on the first place.
One time my wife wanted to put an offer on a place we hadn’t even gotten into yet because the lockbox was not working. We eventually did get in. And in the end we bought the place.
Some clients are like this: They will hire the first lawyer they speak with. Sight unseen. On the basis of a phone call.
This is why I answer my own phone. It is why I make myself accessible weekends, holidays, late at night. People are often surprised when I pick up. I need to speak with the lawyer. YOU are the lawyer?
Other people take their time. They interview multiple lawyers. They ask questions.
I understand this. The stakes are enormous. And it is a lot of money.
But I am a solo practitioner. I limit in-person meetings to only the most promising potential clients. In other words, I do not meet with the tire-kickers, no matter how well intentioned or justified they may be. It is simply not worth my time.
I tell people who find me on the internet that I do my free consultations over the phone. As for people who come to me through a referral, many of them are ready to hire me at the time they first contact me.
Many of my colleagues have hired full time employees to answer phones and to do intake work, website development and marketing. Some of them have adopted what I refer to as the Rjon Robbins/Lee Rosen approach to running a law firm. You focus yourself on marketing and management, and you hire other people to do the actual legal work. This may be a lucrative approach: The more you can leverage yourself, the more money you can make. You become a businessman, not a lawyer.
I was a federal manager during my first career. I spent all sorts of time worrying about whether my employees were productive and happy. I have done that. I have no desire to do it again. I want to practice law. So, in the meantime, I continue to muddle my way through. And in the meantime, I answer my own phone. Always with the hope of new business.