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Takeaway Tips From a Successful Client Meeting

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 04, 2017 12:59 PM

If you're reading this piece about a first client meeting, you probably are a new lawyer or soon-to-be one. After all, an experienced lawyer would not likely read this because it would not be his or her first rodeo. But in the off-chance that you're a seasoned attorney looking for a few pointers or just killing time, let me at least entertain you.

This is a story about a memorable first client meeting, about twenty years ago. It's a good one, and there are probably some pointers here and there.

It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Seriously, I was at the office late one night when I got a desperate phone call:

Client: I need a lawyer right now.

Me: OK, I can see you now, but I'd like to know if you are prepared to hire a lawyer because I would rather go home at this hour.

The client showed up soon enough, looking disheveled and disturbed. He said police were searching for him, and he was afraid he would be arrested.

Me: Did you do something criminal?

Client: Well, not really.

He Didn't Look Dangerous

I was bigger and stronger than he was, so I pressed for more information. His problem stemmed from an alleged scam, and I told him he was facing federal prison time.

Client: I can't go back to prison again.

Me: What were you convicted for the first time?

Client: Attempted murder.

I don't think I flinched; it was my second serious criminal matter. I told him my qualifications and said he would have to pay the entire fee in advance. 

$25,000 Later ...

The client retained me and we went on to a memorable experience that resulted in his going free and two episodes on television's 20/20. The publicity didn't help because he had fled the country; that's why he was free. Authorities found him after the show identified him, but that's another story.

Client Meeting Tips to Takeaway

In retrospect, I think the client hired me for a few reasons: 1) I made myself available; 2) I was straight-forward with him; 3) I let him know my expectations.

Law practice coaches will offer a to-do list for impressing a client at a first meeting, such as researching before the meeting, dressing for success, meeting in a professional environment, etc.

These are good and useful tips. Take all of this into consideration when going into your first client meeting. With luck, you'll come out of the meeting with not only a good story, but a new client as well.

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