Today, I learned that lawyers should “Always Be Closing” in the Glengarry Glen Ross fashion. The assertion is that a lawyer’s primary focus should be on closing a deal and getting cash, check, or a credit card number. I have yet to see a lawyer with over 5 years experience (of actual law practice) who agrees, but perhaps they’re just dinosaurs who’ve lost sight of the cutting edge.
I don’t follow the ABC thing, either. That might make me a bad businessman. It may make me the antichrist of opportunism. It may mean that I miss on a big check or a 7-series. I don’t care.
It made me think of something that happened this week.
A potential client (PC) called me some weeks ago and explained his case.
Note: I didn’t just let him explain. I asked very precise questions and demanded precise answers. I didn’t let him ramble. I never let PCs ramble. I do this out of loyalty to my existing clients. My idea of a free consultation is a conversation controlled by me. It is not an opportunity for PC to get free advice. It is my chance to evaluate whether I can assist in a case, and how.
I agreed to take the case and quoted a fee (a sizable one). He agreed.
On Tuesday, I received a parcel with documentary evidence, a check, and a copy of the representation agreement. I set the check to the side and began reading the documents contained in the package. The documents contradicted what PC told me. What had been briefed as a winnable, fresh case was actually a case that, due to various pro-se actions, had a slightly less than zero percent chance of succeeding.
I could’ve cashed his check, spent time on his case to substantiate the fee, written some flowery and important-sounding documents, mailed them, and then act surprised in a few months after being told that we lost. I could’ve told him how the board deciding his matter were a bunch of rubber-stamp-idiots and bureaucrats who were clearly biased against him. In short, I could’ve closed the deal, bullshitted my way through a horrible case, and then make him feel like our valiant efforts were thwarted by evil powers-that-be.
I didn’t do this.
On Wednesday, I mailed him the documents, his check, and a letter explaining that I could not accept his money for a case that had no chance of success.
There you go. Proof that I’m a horrible businessman. Proof that I let dollars (thousands of them) slip through my fingers. Proof that I’m not capable of building what, for some, is a successful and lucrative practice.
And, I’m just fine with that.