I was talking to a doctor friend of mine recently who told me about an experience he had treating another physician. He conveyed that it was really difficult to care for another doctor since the patient wanted more input than usual in the doctor-patient relationship and thought he knew a lot about the medical issue involved even though it was not his specialty. The conversation got me thinking about situations when I had clients who were lawyers. Of course, there is some tension involved with representing other attorneys, but lawyers can make great clients in a variety of situations.
One of the most important ways that lawyers can make great clients is because lawyers can do a lot of the grunt work that is usually part of a representation. A lawyer usually needs to work on a number of administrative tasks throughout the course of a representation — collecting documents, responding to questions from the other side, and other tasks. Even if a lawyer is not experienced in a given practice area, they may be more willing and able to conduct these administrative tasks than other clients because they have empathy for a lawyer and want to receive the best service possible. This can make an attorney more efficient at their job and can protect a client’s bottom line as well.
Another important benefit of having a lawyer as a client is to have another head thinking of ideas for a case. Of course, there is something to the saying “two heads are better than one” since the more people that are involved in a matter, the more creative ideas people might have for an issue. Moreover, clients are usually much closer to the facts of a matter than lawyers, so if the client is a lawyer, they will be able to digest the facts more easily and come up with legal strategies. This can improve the representation and ensure that the attorney representing a lawyer presents the best arguments to advance a case.
Lawyers are also more empathetic to other lawyers than typical clients, and this shows during a representation. Many attorneys understand how much of a burden billing and collections can be, and lawyers who are clients may be better to deal with when it comes to billing. In addition, lawyers can usually step inside the shoes of other lawyers, including their own counsel, so they may be less likely to call or text unless it is crucial to communicate. Clients may not understand how lawyers often have a variety of clients to serve and projects to complete, but lawyers who are clients are more likely to empathize with lawyers and make a representation flow smoother.
It is also usually much easier to communicate with lawyers who are clients than clients that do not have a legal training. If an attorney went to law school and passed the bar, it is likely that the lawyer knows a baseline of information about a given legal issue, even if the lawyer does not specialize in a given field. As a result, lawyers may understand the lingo and terminology of a representation without the need for an attorney to explain certain terms and strategies. This can help the lawyer and the client who is also a lawyer focus in on the critical points of a matter when they communicate, which is more efficient than when usually dealing with clients who are not lawyers.
Lawyers also make great clients since they can add to your professional network. If an attorney is seeking to be represented by another lawyer, it is likely that the client practices law in a different area than the attorney that is representing the lawyer. As a result, if a lawyer does a good job for a lawyer who is a client, it is possible that the client will remember the lawyer when they have a referral in the future. Indeed, I have received numerous referrals from attorneys I have represented in the past and have expanded my professional network with lawyers to whom I provided legal services. Of course, any client has the potential to be a good referral source, and this is just one more reason to provide the best representation possible. However, referrals from other attorneys are usually more frequent than referrals from people who do not practice law, and this is one additional benefit of providing legal assistance to another lawyer.
All told, some people might think that attorneys might make bad clients since they may judge the work of the lawyer representing them more harshly or be nosier than typical clients. However, lawyers shouldn’t hesitate to provide legal services to other lawyers since lawyers might make the representation easier and help an attorney expand their professional network.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at email@example.com.