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What BigLaw Taught Me

I’ve recently had a few opportunities to interact with BigLaw. I was fortunate enough to see a few honest-to-goodness BigLaw lawyers work their magic in an initial consultation, and I even got to experience, through a client, the type of service BigLaw provides. Being the unselfish guy I am, I am going to share with you the five essential lessons I learned watching BigLaw. Follow these, and you’ll be representing clients like BigLaw in no time flat.

1) Don’t Answer Your Phone

That’s right, don’t even think about picking it up. This rule doesn’t just apply to famous partners with national reputations, but also to junior associates. Lawyers may know that you don’t go to court very often, if at all, but your clients don’t. I know you’re in your office for no less that ten hours each day sitting inches away from the phone writing soporific memos about obscure legal topics, but you can still convince the general public otherwise. You need to create the illusion of unavailability. Not answering your phone is a step in the right direction. The mystique you’ll create is what BigLaw is all about.

2) Don’t Respond to Emails

Your secretary needs to do that. The only time it is acceptable to write an email is before the client hires your firm. You are too important to type a few words for the people who pay your salary. If you are a real BigLaw lawyer, you’ll have a pool of secretaries willing to kill for the opportunity to tell your client what’s happening with his case. Secretaries write emails, BigLaw lawyers lawyer. I’m not sure how, but they do. That’s why they’re rich. This rule also applies to lowly associates, though they may actually have to make a call or two when the client finally hits his boiling point. Just make sure your secretary first sends an email to your client telling him you will contact him when you have the time. You’re busy, remember?

3) Don’t Listen

Paying attention to what people say when you ask them questions is for chumps. It’s total bush league stuff. It’s the kind of things solos do, and it’s beneath BigLaw. When you initially make small talk with a client and he tells you in a very somber tone that he was recently laid off from his job, make sure you focus on questions about where he works when you go over the BigLaw client intake questionnaire with him. That sad look in his eyes is respect, not shame. He is impressed with you and your BigLaw office.

4) No Updates

See how far you can stretch ER 1.4(a)(3)! Keeping the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter means letting him know when you’ve decided to drop his case. If you decide to keep his case, don’t tell him anything until it’s over. Remember, you are very busy. You must, however, promptly notify him of any outstanding fees.

5) More Is Better

Not with respect to communication, research, or zeal, but with respect to associates. You can’t have too many following you around. If you’re an associate, this applies to secretaries and paralegals. Having people follow you around makes you look and feel important. The more people who follow you around, the more important you are. The more important the people who follow you around are, the more important you are. Having a bevy of less important people following you around also has a hidden benefit every time you leave the room. After you leave, they can tell people how great you are. Clients won’t realize you all work for the same BigLaw firm and want to get their business. They’ll just be impressed that someone other than you is telling them how great you are.

If you take these five essential tips to heart, you will probably have a long and distinguished BigLaw career. I should warn you, however, that I take no responsibility for any bar complaints or lost business you might experience on the way to the top.

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One Response to "What BigLaw Taught Me"

  1. shg says:

    Excellent post. Well done, Matt.

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