By Macyh Naweay, J.D.
In real practice, there is little poetry or complex theory. You likely will not win or lose a case because you didn’t proof read a motion. You won’t need a Black’s law dictionary on your side nor will you need to know every rule verbatim, like they expect you to on the California Bar Exam.
In real practice, you will need to know one thing, and that is customer service. There is no other element that will shine as strong as an attorney who knows how to deal with everyday people. People from different backgrounds, races, religions, socioeconomic statuses and attitudes.
You may think the guy or girl who sits next to you in Torts and who is very social, would therefore have great customer service skills, but that is not necessarily true. You don’t need to be social or outgoing or charming.
All you need, is to have a part of you, however small, that actually cares. I cannot stress this single fact enough: You must care about each and every client, and each and every case.
Does that mean you do what your client wants? Not always. It simply means that sometimes you may need to bump heads with your clients and even argue with them about the best approach. All and all, by the end of the heated discussion, clients will feel your passion and the fact that you care.
Ultimately in this life, we want others to care. In the process of becoming a licensed attorney, we are taught so much about rankings and prestige. Lawyers are infamous for statuses, money and patting themselves on the back, but perhaps that is why the profession has a negative image.
In just two years of practice, I have handled over 80+ cases. I have never been asked by a client how long I have been practicing nor what school I went to. I have never been asked by a client if I passed the bar exam on my first attempt or how much money I make.
Clients see that I care and that I am competent; ultimately those are the two elements clients want.
I started my practice with the help and guidance of Professor Lilys McCoy (yes, the angel who glides around TJSL). I wasn’t the best law student, never received a single Amjur award for a class, and I never even interned for a firm during law school. Thus, it is safe to say that I was pretty inexperienced and many of you reading this are way ahead of where I was.
But you know what I did have? Customer service. I call clients back right away, I have worked through the night on a single case because I cared and knew that this may be another case to me, but for someone it is their livelihood, their family, or even their future.
People know when you’re genuine, they sense it. In fact, every single client who has met with me, has signed with me. They say things like, “I just trust you” or “I get a good gut feeling about you”. It’s because when you genuinely want to help people, that shines through. That light continues to shine even through the dark nights in your office or the long travels ahead like the weeks of discovery prep.
I’m not going to tell you to fight for justice or be a civil rights attorney. I’m not going to tell you to do pro-bono work or help the poor. We each have our own battles and struggles. We each have our own path and destinies. All I am going to tell you is to care about your clients and to learn how to push yourself each day, in order to provide a better service for your clients.
Once you do that, you will see the increase in demand for your services, and you can thank me later for that.