Okay, here’s a fun little quiz. Cover up your screen below the following paragraph to hide the answer.
Question: Which three of the following adjectives do clients use most frequently when describing the characteristics of outstanding lawyers: intelligent, capable, zealous, responsive, attractive, insightful, well-connected, aggressive, confident, accessible, knowledgeable, expert, prompt, clever, eloquent, persuasive, bombastic, successful.
Answer: Responsive, accessible and prompt.
This is according to an unscientific study of the “client comments” section of the Best Lawyers in America. For more than 30 years, Best Lawyers has used peer-review methodology to publish its listing of top attorneys. In short, lawyers are asked to identify the superstars among their ranks.
And while there is no doubt that peer recognition is an important indicator of excellence, it is even more interesting to see what actual clients have to say about the listed luminaries.
Their comments show that they expect their lawyers to have a certain level of skill and experience. Beyond this baseline, however, what really impresses clients is the basic stuff.
Returning phone calls. Being available when needed. Delivering the requested service on time – or even sooner.
These qualities don’t call for any specific expertise or legal training. They don’t depend on an Ivy League degree. They don’t require any investment of time or money – and can end up saving a great deal of both.
All that you need, it would appear, to be considered one of The Best in the Business is to care for your clients.
If you doubt that, just remember how you felt the last time your computer crashed and you spent half a day navigating an automated telephone menu. Or you needed a doctor and were told the first available appointment was in two weeks. Or the auto repair shop wound up taking three days on a job you were originally told would take no time at all.
Be there for your clients. Listen when they speak. Finish the job on time.
Jay Reeves is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Once upon a time he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He once hung out with Wolfman Jack. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.