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Striving to be ‘the guy’ for my clients

As we grow older, the universe of things for which we as young lawyers are responsible grows and grows. We take on mortgages, car loans, have babies and eventually learn, as I did recently, that our bodies aren’t as indestructible as we once thought.

With a mortgage, a leaky tub is no longer a quick call to the landlord — it is on you to figure it out. Your car is making a weird noise? Better find someone to fix it and hope that the mechanic doesn’t take you to the cleaners. Rupture your Achilles tendon because you thought you could play lacrosse after a 15-year hiatus? Better find a good doctor!

When problems arise in our lives, we grow to rely on people to help us solve those problems. We hopefully find people who we can trust to do a good job and not take advantage of us. If we are lucky, we have a “guy” who can help us.

When I have car issues, for example, I have a mechanic to whom I will always take my car because I know that he will always quote me a fair price, perform only the work that is necessary to get the job done and do the work well. I also have a go-to contractor for when things break in my house that are above my pay grade (i.e., more difficult than changing a light bulb). And, thanks to my unfortunate lacrosse injury, I also have a go-to doctor for lower leg injuries, someone whom I will hopefully never need again.

To me, having a team of “guys”— men and women — to help solve the recurring, unavoidable adult problems and issues that pop up in life is priceless. Nothing is more comforting than knowing you have a good solution for unexpected problems that you can’t solve yourself.

As I have recently needed the help of trustworthy professionals in my life, it got me thinking about all of the qualities that these people share, which I think translate well to the legal profession.

  1. They tell it like it is — A great way to build trust with someone is to be honest with them, which can mean not sugarcoating bad news. When clients come to you with tough cases, you are only doing them a disservice by telling them they have a home run on their hands. Providing a client with realistic expectations about his or her case will earn trust and hopefully a repeat customer.
  2. They are efficient and cost-effective — Whether someone is having a car or house fixed or trying to win in a lawsuit, he or she probably has two main goals: (1) a favorable result; and (2) a low bill. As lawyers, we can keep the results favorable and the costs low by properly delegating tasks and always striving to perform only the work reasonably necessary for the client’s case.
  3. They are responsive — This week, within four hours of finding a puddle of water that had leaked through my kitchen ceiling, my contractor guy was at my house with a cost-effective solution. Such responsiveness can go a long way as a lawyer.
  4. They do good work — This one is a no-brainer. The most common trait shared by my team of “guys” is that they all do excellent work. That, of course, is what all young lawyers are always striving for — to be among the absolute best in their profession. Talent and smarts takes you so far but, to be the best, you have work at it. This includes seeking mentors, attending CLEs, and staying up-to-date on the law, among other things.

Nothing provides me with greater pride in this profession than knowing there are people who trust me with their legal work. I am their “guy” and will continue working hard on their behalf.