JW Way Fundamental #2: Treat clients’ Money as if it were your own
“Think about the cost of representation. Avoid expenses that don’t have a demonstrable benefit to the client.“
JW has a unique culture, as do all businesses. However, one key difference is that we have captured the essence of our firm in The JW Way Fundamentals. These are the foundation of our business and inform how we operate, including how we deal with and for clients and the work we do on their behalf, i.e. how we are spending our clients’ money.
The idea of treating clients’ money as if it were your own seems obvious, but you only have to look to other firms’ fee applications to see it is not, or that they don’t always have their clients’ best interests at heart. The easiest example of this is something that one of our partners said at a recent attorney meeting about what he sometimes says to clients: We can ride to court in a Honda or a Cadillac. In some situations, a client may only be able to afford the Honda even if they want the Cadillac.
If that is the case you then have to figure out whether it is possible to provide outstanding legal advice and service going to court in the Honda. If not, or if a potential client is looking for a luxury ride, they cannot afford, the best thing to do is to decline the representation because odds are you cannot realistically meet their expectations.
In our world, when a client is on a litigation budget, that means thinking about overall costs for a representation and what can be done to try and work within a given client’s budget. For example, it could be regarding larger expenses such as only taking really necessary depositions or smaller expenses such as sending a demand by snail mail and e-mail, but not having it hand delivered or served.
The fact is that by treating our clients’ money as if it were our own, as well as following the other fundamentals of The JW Way for a number of years now, it has lead all of us to work together to advocate on behalf of our clients while trying to keep fees and costs reasonable in light of all circumstances relevant to a particular representation. This in turn has resulted in being able to meet and exceed the goals and expectations of our clients.
We always must keep in mind that our clients don’t want the invoice for the Cadillac if you discussed the Honda.