Just Because You are a Guard, Does Not Mean You are a Point Guard!

Recently, I had a long-standing client call me to say that he did not need legal advice, but rather “counseling advice.” His call made me realize that a good attorney’s true value lies in not just knowing the law—all lawyers should know the law—but rather in being a listener and a mentor.

How does an attorney become the client’s trusted advisor? The term “trusted advisor” is fiendishly hard to define, but it seems to boil down to one essential component: giving priority to the client’s best interests and being fully invested in business practices that put those interests first. It means having the business acumen, experience, training, knowledge and subject matter expertise to be trusted to advise the clients well, and taking the time a client needs to be able to do so. A trusted advisor has the ability to diagnose the client’s business problems and challenges and then to make the right recommendations to improve their situation; to act as a change agent to build the case for change and to manage the politics of change within the client’s organization; and to ensure the client achieves the outcomes that you have represented.

By being totally involved with my clients, I am able to coordinate with their team of trusted advisors. These services, again, are not just legal services, but also include skillfully coordinating the communication and collaboration among each of these professionals, resulting in a unified approach to the client’s issues.

The truth is that we all need trusted advisors. We cannot be experts in everything. Any good trusted advisor will assist with five key tasks. They will:

  • Educate with relevant and timely information
  • Provide objectivity in evaluating the current situation
  • Seek to understand the client’s goals and why they are important to the client
  • Suggest several possible strategies for achieving the client’s goals
  • Use their expertise and network of contacts to help the client accomplish their goals in the quickest, most economical way possible

There are many guards, but very few point guards!

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