So, What Makes a Good Client? Revisited

In the summer of 2011, I wrote an article about what makes a good client. Since then, I have noticed that there are more specific qualities that I feel need to be present.

So, what makes a “good client?” The glib answer, for many attorneys, continues to be simply: a client who pays their bills! But the fact that someone is willing to give you their money in exchange for your legal services, while a good thing, does not automatically make them a good client. A good client, for Konowitz & Greenberg, knows the difference between a relationship and a transaction, and acknowledges that a good relationship is a partnership.

First, the attorney and client must value the partnership in the same way. The difference between a relationship attorney and a transaction attorney is similar to the difference between the Minute Out-Patient Clinics versus the Primary Care Physician. One is interest in the moment; the other is interest in your long term goals, especially if you are not sure what they might be.

If one of your goals has price as the major determinate, then a transaction attorney might be a better choice. Similar to a suit off the rack, or one cut to fit; one size does not fit all. They both ultimately serve the same purpose; however, which one will look better and last longer?

If you, as the client, feel you know more about your situation and what is best for you without the benefit of true collaboration with your attorney, then a transaction attorney would be a better choice. While you may be an expert in your field, however, a relationship attorney has probably dealt with your situation many times and can facilitate with guidance to make the proper choices. By taking the time to understand both the client’s reason for asking for a course of action as well as the ability to deliver on that course is a hallmark of a relationship attorney. A relationship attorney will not automatically say yes just because “the client is always right.”

If you are looking for an attorney you can trust who will have your interest ahead of his own pecuniary interest, then a relationship attorney is the better choice. When more questions are asked it fosters a better understanding of the situation. Making the time to ask hard questions and letting the client share their observations will enable a relationship attorney who is a trusted advisor to offer advice and expertise that not only has your back, but also your future as well.

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