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Most clients won't see your car until after they have hired you. So unless you are practicing law out of your car, your choice of vehicle probably does not really matter to clients at first. We're lawyers, not realtors.
However, because we are lawyers, we also think about contingencies. What if the client sees you when you drive up to the courthouse? What if you are chasing an ambulance and you arrive at the accident scene ...
Seriously, clients are people, too, and they may judge you at some point by the vehicle you drive. So what does your vehicle say about your law practice? Here are some things to consider:
Reasonable Man Car
Adrian Mark Baron, writing for LinkedIn, said clients size up lawyers based on their vehicles because first impressions are human nature. With the help of a car dealer client, he conducted a survey online. The respondents generally expected attorneys to drive nice, clean cars, but not necessarily luxury cars.
"I have seen many successful ... people drive a compact Toyota or Honda," said Karol Steczkowski. "As long as it is a clean car, there is no issue."
Michael Schroeder, likewise, said a lawyer's car should be neat and conservative. A luxury car is fine, but not an ostentatious car.
In general, the respondents seemed to calculate cost-of-car into cost-of-services. The more expensive the car, the higher the billable hour.
Where's the Money?
Expensive lawyer cars may be better for some clients. Baron said he overheard two women discussing a lawyer to hire, and one recommended the lawyer who "drives a Jaguar."
"The nice car lawyer gets my money," Mike Kiraly said in the survey. "I know I'm smarter than that, but I've got to be honest. This is just the way our world works."
Andrew Cabasso, writing for the Lawyerist, says that a supercar may tell everybody you're successful. The Lamborghini may also send out another message: "I win a lot of cases, but everyone hates my personality," he wrote.
For the most part, the car your drive says more about your lifestyle than your practice. It is almost like a Rorschach test, which allows people to see what they want to see in ink blots.
So choose the car you like, and if your clients choose you, they will probably approve of your car, too. Just remember to keep it clean.