A few weeks ago I asked lawyers how they preferred to communicate with their clients. The overwhelming response was email. Which completely makes sense. It’s asynchronous, provides a written record, and can include attachments. But sometimes you do need to meet with clients face-to-face.
The vast majority of the time I’ve met clients in my office. But there are exceptions. I’ve met a client in their home before. I’ve met multiple clients at their places of business. And yes, I’ve met with a client at a coffeehouse. Not a Starbucks though, gross. Only local coffeehouses that provide artisanal, fresh-roasted beans and pour-overs please.
I’ve met with clients where they wish for their convenience. Meeting them half way, or where they are. It’s good client service. But it has to be tempered with knowing what’s best for the client as well. When I’ve met with clients at coffeehouses, I made sure the clients understood we were to only stick to broad topics and not go into anything sensitive. It also helps that these are business clients and not people charged with criminal conduct.
So I asked lawyers where they prefer to meet with their clients.
Where do you prefer to MEET with clients?
— Keith Lee (@associatesmind) April 17, 2018
Despite living in a Web 3.0, post-geographic world, lawyers overwhelmingly prefer to meet clients at their own office. It’s not even close. There are a variety of reasons for that – attorney-client privilege, storage, convenience. But there is something else at play as well.
What Is The Largest Building In Town?
When you go to a small town in America the three largest buildings are:
- Church – The local Church is always one of the largest buildings. It’s God’s house. It’s the home of people’s faith and spirituality. It needs to be large, important, and noticeable
- Bank – The local bank is always one of the largest buildings. It’s where people store their money. It’s the home of mortgages and loans. It needs to seem safe and secure.
- Courthouse – The local courthouse is always one of the largest buildings. It’s the outpost of the government and where justice is done. It needs to seem permanent and imposing.
The reason these buildings are always some of the biggest in town has to do with the psychology behind what they represent – faith, money, justice. These are not fly-by-night concepts. They are not apps. They are fundamental structural supports of society that must be perceived as enduring and immutable for people to trust them.
In many respects, where you meet clients, and what type of office you have is a function of your clients. Like I said above, I’ve met with clients at a coffeehouse, but only after they had been a client for months or years. They’ve been the sorts of clients that you come to know really well. And they know that I’ve got a permanent address where they can find me. I wouldn’t ever conduct an initial client meeting at somewhere other than my office.
So if you’re a lawyer…do you want to be a fly-by-night outfit that only meets clients at a coffeehouse or do you want to be a permanent part of the community?
And if you want to meet other lawyers and join a community…