Great Attorney, Bad Fit!

True Story

Cobra download

AC Cobra, Great Car, Great Fit!

Last weekend, I spent Labor Day doing what I have done for the past few years. I drove cars for Auctions America in Auburn, Indiana. Less than one week ago, I had the privilege and honor of driving a real, honest to goodness, AC Cobra during the course of that auction. This was an exceptional 1964 model which had the original interior in it and very few miles on it. This was not a replica, nor was it a later continuation version. This was the real thing. This is my dream car.

Unfortunately, it was priced appropriately and effectively way, way, out of my price range at 1.2 million dollars. As a driver at these auctions, you are not guaranteed to be able to drive any single auto. They are staged about 20 at a time in an area close to the auction ring and parked in place readied to be driven up to the stage where they are auctioned off. I spent the entire day watching closely as the cars were placed in line to be available to get into the seat of this car. For six years, I have been driving cars for the Lions Club at these auctions in the Fall and again in the Spring. This was the first time I had a chance to drive one of these very rare and beautiful autos.

Once the auctioneer “hammers down” or calls a “no sale”, the driver then drives the car to a specified location on the grounds which are crowded with thousands of spectators. They are often milling around right in the path and blocking your movement forward. When driving one of these very high performance autos, you need to understand how to operate the clutch (which is very, very stiff) or it will grind the gears and do damage to this vehicle. Also, the accelerator pedal and brake as so close together, that I actually took my shoe off of my right foot so as not to catch the break inadvertently while depressing the accelerator pedal. This car was designed to be driven, but not by everyone. I had 1.2 million dollars under my control and the ability to present it on stage as intended, or to abuse it by riding the clutch inappropriately or stalling it as it went up a steep ramp onto the stage. One other driver actually got out of another Cobra that was going through the sale as he explained, he was worried that he was unable to operate the clutch as he didn’t have the ability to reach full extension and the transmission tunnel was too tight for him to fit into the auto properly.

I successfully drove my selected Cobra onto the stage and parked it without incident, but the entire time I both enjoyed the experience as one of the highlights of my life and at the same time, one of the most anxiety provoking experiences of my life as well. But, I would do it over again and again if I could! What a beautiful piece of machinery that Cobra was in design, mechanical condition and quality of restoration. How lucky I was to be able to drive that car, the car of my dreams.

In a sense, you may find that you possess great legal skills and are at the top of your game. You are a “Cobra” lawyer. Yet, when you meet with a potential client, you find that your personalities clash. They “grind the gears” when communicating with you. It isn’t that there is anything wrong with your lawyering. And it isn’t that the potential client has unreasonable demands or even an off-putting personality. It is that the two of you feel differently about how to proceed and you remind the client of someone they intensely dislike or vice versa. Be honest with yourself and with that potential client and send them off to someone else. Trust your instincts. Otherwise, you may find yourself constantly at odds with that client and that client will always be dissatisfied with your services. Even if they have the potential of helping you meet your financial targets, it may not be worth taking them on. If you feet don’t fit the pedals, send them elsewhere and save yourself some grief and unnecessary anxiety. What are some of the indicators of a bad fit?

  • You are a big picture person while your prospective client wants to concentrate only on details
  • You are not inclined to be emotional and don’t relate well to clients who are highly emotional
  • They are clearly misaligned with your political persuasions and profess it regularly
  • Your receptionist says that Mr. or Mrs. X has arrived and makes a face
  • They arrive and announce that they dislike attorneys right up front
  • They are cynical, arrogant, and irritable from the get go
  • They correct you concerning your understanding of the law
  • They tell you it is about the principle and not the money

Many good attorneys are a bad fit with some of their clients and there are many bad attorneys who are a good fit with their clients. When I do presentations to groups of non-lawyers, I tell them to interview several lawyers to find an attorney who is a good fit meaning that they have a good feeling about that attorney going into the process. They will be happier clients and the attorney will be more invested in making sure that the client’s needs are being met. Your practice is more likely to thrive if your clients feel a positive connection with you. Your best source of advertising is your current client base. If they feel good about you, they are more likely to refer more business your way. Likewise, you don’t want bad feelings projected by your current or former clients for the same reason.

Trust your instincts and you will find greater success in practice and life.

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