Every lawyer must be good with the business of law to succeed as a lawyer or at the minimal to get the best out of the legal profession. And guess what? they don’t teach you this stuff in school, just as they don’t teach you a lot of things you experience while in legal practice. You must learn the rope and you must learn it fast if you have any intend to survive in the profession. Here are 7 things you should know about the business of law :
1. Your client should never be your friend. And your friend should never be your client. Money wrecks Good Relationships. If you cherish the friendship, do the job for free.
2. Don’t be too nice and considerate about charging your fees. The person paying you will not be nice and considerate to you if you don’t do the job or if you do a bad job.
3. Completely remove emotions and religion when charging your fees. It’s either they can afford you or they cannot. From my experience, clients who think you’re unaffordable usually spend more money on even more useless things.
It’s really not about Affordability but Value.
4. Never agree to be paid later, unless the proceeds will be coming into your account FIRST. Otherwise, if the money goes directly into your client’s account, he or she may no longer pick your calls.
Money reveals the worst in the best among us.
Caveat: An exception may be created for clients who once offered voluntary financial assistance. We must remember those who showed up in our darkest hour.
5. When it comes to business and money, promises means nothing to Nigerians. They’d promise anything just to get rid of you. Promises won’t pay your bills.
6. Naturally, humans do not like parting with their money to someone else. But you can make it easy for them BY NOT DOING THEIR JOB OR BY WATCHING THEM SUFFER.
Survival always makes people give up money. From my experience, clients in police custody hardly negotiate fees.
7. A foreigner doing business in Nigeria once told my former boss that any man with too much conscience would forever remain poor. I disagreed then, but NOW I totally agree. You know why?
People (men and women without conscience) will take unfair advantage of you (with too much conscience).
Author of the seven points is unknown.
Lawyers as law students studied business law namely contract law, commercial law, corporate law, insurance law and a host of others. But more often than not, lawyers are not good at running their legal practice as a business. They are more consumed with the intricacies of the law than with the tips of a business man or woman. This has accounted for the failure of most Nigerian lawyers to climb the ladder of success in legal practice. I have seen very intelligent lawyers romance abject poverty because they never took out time to study the business of the law. They never understood the principles needed to run a business. More’s the pity if this perception is not corrected in the minds of Nigerian lawyers to read “Every lawyer must be good with the business of law to become an excellent lawyer.” After all, lawyers are not called learned for naught. Lawyers must know how to market in a way that it won’t offend their Professional rules of conduct 2007. Lawyers must be strategic in executing their duty to their clients in a way that it would become a source of futuristic reference for the generation of more clients and by implication business. Lawyers must also know how to manage their finance in running their firm or legal practice. Most times, lawyers mingle monies belonging to clients with their money. This also leads to problems when they need to execute the job of a client who has already paid for the services. As a result they encounter difficulty in performing their functions which involves finance.
In Nigeria, we know most average lawyers are jack of all trade, so it would not be a bad idea to just add the business of the law in their toolkit to give their business a much needed uplift.