That Look

We are given senses to receive our information within. With our own eyes we see, and with our own skin we feel. With our intelligence, it is intended that we understand. But each person must puzzle it out for himself or herself. – Sophy Burnham

It has taken me some time to understand what that look means. It is but fleeting a fleeting thing for the potential business client – they have been down this path before and come in with a sense that, once again, all is not quite right in their world. But for the potential private client, the one who through no fault of their own finds themselves sitting across the table from a lawyer, it comes in that moment when they start to realize that perhaps, just perhaps, this simple little issue is not quite so simple after all.

I have come to realize that look heralds the moment when I must switch roles, to move from attorney/advocate – gatekeeper to the arcane mysteries of the law to attorney/counselor – to provide plans, action item, expectations (mine and theirs) – to provide perspective, showing the forest and its paths rather than simply examining this solitary tree  – to move them from the mindset that solutions can be found outside of the  binary decision: litigation or nothing.

My results are a mixed bag – sometimes potential clients become clients, sometimes there are those occasions where I’ve fail to assuage the needs underlying that look and the client moves on slightly more confused and disheartened , or the rare occasion when the client actually listens, takes my advice and is able to come to a satisfactory resolution through a few small self-help steps – I get a “won’t need you, it worked just like you said it would, I’m going to tell everybody I know” call (which is great, but doesn’t pay the bills) that puts a few more credits in the bank of karma.