My favorite part about the conversations with potential new clients who say, “If we win this case, you’ll be able to retire…,” is when I ask the potential new clients if I am the first lawyer they’ve spoken to.
“Well, I have spoken to one or two…”
“Who?” I ask. They’re reluctant. I coax: “I am just curious. You know I know quite a few lawyers in town and, you know, maybe I just, it would, you could, you know…” (I trail off because I really have nothing to say.) This may or may not signal some kind of vague suggestion that I will know if they lie to me, that I have other means of finding the information out that I am asking of the potential client.
“Well, I spoke with a lawyer friend…”
This is the first red flag of problems, of course. The response is evasive. It is also inconsistent with the “one or two lawyers” the potential new clients just said they’d spoken to.
At this point, I reach for my interrogation tools. I do not bother with brass knuckles, rubber hose, or bright lights. I have found these work badly in telephone calls, which is by far the most frequent way I am in contact with new potential clients. I find follow-up questions more effective, actually, and less fraught with ethical or criminal implications.
By the end of my follow-up questions, I learn that the potential clients have shopped their supposed career-making case to every lawyer in the upper Midwest except me. I am naturally honored to be included (finally) in the parade of talent (potential nickname, “Seth ‘The Caboose’ Leventhal”?).
IF YOU HAVE HAD TO SHOP YOUR CASE TO A GAZILLION LAWYERS, IT IS NOT A GOLD MINE, OK? STOP IT.
THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS A TWO-WAY STREET THAT REQUIRES HONESTY AND INTEGRITY BY BOTH CLIENTS AND LAWYERS. DO NOT BULLSH*T YOUR LAWYER OR POTENTIAL LAWYER. NO ONE HAS TIME FOR THAT.
***This is lawyer advertising. (?) Seth Leventhal is an experienced Minnesota civil litigator who wants you to call him first, not last (612-234-7349), and who demands that you to treat him with the respect and candor that you can and should demand of your lawyer. If you cannot muster that, please don’t call. Thanks in advance.***