Just answer the question
By Richard Jacobs
When potential clients are stuck in a legal situation, they come up with a lot of questions. How you as an attorney answer those questions pretty much decides whether you’d retain the client or not. A bad answer (or no answer) can cause you massive client losses.
Today, I want to talk to you about a very simple concept that’s often misunderstood by attorneys and it causes them to lose quite a bit of clients. It’s called answering the question you have been asked and it’s laughably simple. But as politicians show you, this could be a very hard concept for some people. So we just had the third debate in the Trump and Hillary campaign. I am not talking about who is better or who is worse, but what I am talking about is this. When they were asked questions by the debate head, they did not answer the question and it was frankly very annoying. And if they can’t answer a question, how can you trust either of them.
So now turn this back to being an attorney. If a potential client calls you and asks you a question about a legal matter and you say, “Well, it depends, you just have to come into the office”. You are not answering the question. How do you think they are going to feel? They are not going to want to come into the office. Why would they when someone else will answer their question?
Now, I know in the legal space, you can’t make guarantees, there are a lot of caveats. Every situation is different. But you can say that, tell the potential client even though every situation is different, based on my past experience, here is what I think may happen, or based on the facts you’re telling me, and I don’t know all the facts of course, but based on what you’re telling me so far, here is what I think is a strong possibility. Yes, you still do have to come in, yes we still do have to formally go over your case and go dive deep, that’s where the real answers will be but for now, based on what you told me, Sir, or based on what you told me, Ma’am, here is what I can tell you.
And that’s a far more powerful and rapport building way to do things than awarding the question because as I am sure, you have experienced when someone doesn’t answer the question, it’s frustrating, it’s annoying, you don’t want to work with that person, you don’t want to deal with them and you know it doesn’t serve either of you. So, please, very simply, answer the question.
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