People are people, regardless of their profession. There are some people who are popular and well liked and there are others who are not well liked. Attorneys, of course, are people and, as such, there are some attorneys who are well liked and well respected by their colleagues and then, there are others, whom no one seems to like. For the most part, I do not choose my clients; rather, they choose me. (I say, for the most part, because, as we have mentioned in prior posts, there are some attorneys for whom we do not work, due to the abusive manner in which we have been treated by them.) The one thing all of my clients have in common is their need of my help. Regardless of who they are, where they went to law school, the size of their law firm, the type of case they are trying, or anything else, all of the attorneys who retain Magnus do so for one reason: they need my help on their case. Because they need my help, attorneys who hire Magnus are, almost always, nice to my staff and me. They are polite when they engage our services; they thank us for our excellent work; they refer us to their colleagues; they retain us, again and again; and they happily pay us, handsomely, for our services, without which they believe they would not have succeeded in their case. Over the years, when I have asked a client if he/she knows another of our clients, sometimes, I receive a terse answer, such as “Well, Mr. Big Shot really has an over sized ego. How can you stand working on his cases?”; or “No one in our local Bar association likes “Ms. Know It All!”; or something similar. Because I am asking the question about someone I like, I used to be taken aback by this type of negative response. Over the years, I have come to realize that, although “Mr. Difficult” or “Ms. Meany” might not win a popularity contest among their peers, they are nice to me because: (1) I am nice to them; and (2) they need, and appreciate, my help. In fact, some of the attorneys with whom I have formed a friendship are the type of people who, like me, speak their minds, pursue truth, and follow the rules and, as a result, are more interested in doing the right thing than in doing what everyone else does. Interesting thought!
Many of our clients are feared by their opponents, and sometimes, their own staff and litigation team. I don’t know if the latter is a good thing, but I’ve seen it as an overall positive. Being feared by the opposition is probably generally positive as long as the fear is because the attorney’s litigation skills are formidable and not because they are obnoxious. We had a client, once, who was particularly obnoxious. He got media coverage for a great victory, of which we were a part, but then, he crashed and burned as his toxicity seemed to play out “karmatically.” Back to those who are feared by their own staff, for the most part, this is concerning. We have had a few clients who fit this description, where their team is beleaguered but soldiers on as long as they can. Then they move to other firms; I can only hope that they wear their experiences as a badge of honor and I know, in the instances I’m recalling, that the learning experiences were tremendous because the attorneys who were feared were also very skilled litigators. Yet, in these instances, it has been interesting to observe that while these lead attorneys were hard on their subordinates, they were able to switch “modes” and interact professionally, even in a friendly manner, with Melissa and me. They know how to turn it on and off. Sometimes, it is clear in the working world, that some people have great technical skills for whatever kind of work they do, whether it be law, engineering, medicine, or a clericalfield, but they do not possess people skills. It is great when people recognize the need to be proficient in both areas, even if it does not come as naturally for some as it does others. The obnoxious attorney referenced above tried to use terror to manage his team and the litigation. That is not an advisable management style; his tantrums turned off many people. But, Melissa is right, when people need help, or something else, being nice is a better way to get the desired outcome than demanding or attempting to intimidate someone whose help one needs. Certainly one must recognize the need for help first, but once that determination is made, seeking it should be done in a way to make the helper want to help. Be nice! Kill them with kindness as the “theys” say.