A Specialized Personal Injury & Mass Tort Trial Firm. Getting Extraordinary Results for Ordinary People: Creating the Right Team to Take on Select Cases that Excite Attorneys, Right Wrongs and... Optimizing Your Law Firm’s Financial Health in 2019: Four Areas to Focus Your Spring Cleaning: Fingerprints are unique. No two snowflakes are alike. And each law firm has its own... How to Find and Keep Talent in a Highly Competitive Market: One of the biggest problems companies face, in particular middle market companies, is a... Lessons Learned from Navy SEALs: I will admit it up front—I am in awe of Navy SEALs. My brother-in-law was a career... To Speak Like the Best, You Need to Prep Like the Best: I recently went to the Legal Marketing Association’s (LMA) educational program,... Overconfidence and Law Firm Decline: “Every institution is vulnerable, no matter how great. No matter how much you have... Making a Move with a Purpose: Three to five years into an associate’s legal career is the prime time for associates... Snap! And You Miss It: Snapchat and other photo-sharing apps have redefined how users and employees share... Nobody Wants a Debbie Downer During Initial Consultations: Initial consultations are an important part of most law firms. Potential clients meet... Community News – April 2019: Fifteen Wilson Turner Kosmo attorneys have been selected for inclusion on the San Diego...
Executive Presentations-468x60-1

Nobody Wants a Debbie Downer During Initial Consultations

Initial consultations are an important part of most law firms. Potential clients meet attorneys about their cases. They want an attorney who can help them achieve their goals. Most clients come in knowing generally what they want.

Some attorneys, however, become naysayers who focus exclusively on worst case scenarios. They instantly become pessimistic about what it is the client wants. They then turn that pessimism into being the bearer of bad news during an initial consultation meeting. This kind of pessimism does not lead to the attorney retaining many new clients. Yet, many attorneys who do this, do not even see it in themselves and cannot understand what it is they are doing wrong.

A Saturday Night Live skit that really portrays this well is Debbie Downer. In one episode of Debbie Downer, Debbie meets her match when she sits at a table with Bob Bummer. Both Debbie Downer and Bob Bummer have the same trait in common. They both like to dampen the mood by making negative comments that are entirely pessimistic.

If there is something positive that is happening in any episode of Debbie Downer, Debbie never focuses on it. Instead, she instantly jumps to making negative comments, smirking and the wah-wah sound is then played. This negativity deflates the room so badly that people literally get up and leave. Every episode ends with Debbie Downer all by herself.

The same thing happens when a lawyer plays the role of Debbie Downer (i.e. the naysayer) during an initial meeting. The potential clients literally get up and leave. While they might give an excuse for why they are leaving without hiring the lawyer (like they don’t have the money), they never come back.

It is true that some potential clients come into the law office with what seems like a difficult case. It is true as well that a lawyer needs to point out the potential cons of any case. At the same time, it is important for attorneys to give potential clients IRAC answers to their questions where they also give the pros. What most potential clients need are even-handed assessments of their goals so that they can make an informed decision, not complete and utter negativity.

It is also important to realize that no lawyer has a crystal ball. Thus, when an attorney first meets a potential client, it is just a first meeting. This means that there may be additional facts that the attorney does not know about yet that could impact the case. It also might be the case that nobody could predict with certainty what a judge or jury would do.

In this vein, any attorney who has practiced long enough will also agree that there are some cases where their client came out substantially better than they ever imagined at the first meeting. There are also other cases where a client came out worse than what the attorney had originally thought.

When a potential client is facing a legal matter, they need a lawyer to represent them no matter their situation. Lawyers can help any client through important legal matters. But lawyers who play the naysayer role of Debbie Downer (or Bob Bummer) do nothing but chase the potential clients away. These potential clients then end up being represented by another lawyer who was more even-handed in their assessment of the situation. For this reason, lawyers who need new business really need to keep their naysayer tendencies in check.

Kirk C. Stange

Kirk C. Stange is a founding partner of Stange Law Firm, PC. Stange Law Firm, PC has offices in the Midwest in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas. In addition to practicing law, Kirk spends time educating attorneys and other law professionals at CLE Seminars through the Missouri Bar, myLawCLE, the National Business Institute and other organizations. Learn more at: https://www.stangelawfirm.com.

More Posts

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
www.pdf24.org    Send article as PDF   

Filed Under: Featured StoriesMarketing

About the Author: Kirk C. Stange is a founding partner of Stange Law Firm, PC. Stange Law Firm, PC has offices in the Midwest in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas. In addition to practicing law, Kirk spends time educating attorneys and other law professionals at CLE Seminars through the Missouri Bar, myLawCLE, the National Business Institute and other organizations. Learn more at: https://www.stangelawfirm.com.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

  • Polls