The best way to look at any business is from the standpoint of the clients. – Jamie Dimon.
Why does a Lawyer need To Understand The Client’s Business?
A significant thing to note: entrepreneurs are mostly disappointed after initially trying to work with a majority of lawyers and now stay miles away from the ordinary Indian lawyer. They use their trusted networks to find the ones who understand their business and provide startup-friendly services.
To top that, business models and methods have changed. The new age businesses, where the real growth appears to be happening, carry out very different sort of activities. If you are their lawyer, you’d have to defend them in the course of those businesses. If you don’t understand their world by stepping into their shoes, and you are trying to draft their contracts, End User License Agreement or website usage policy, may the world have mercy on the soul of your client?
1. Clients don’t trust lawyers who don’t have an understanding of their industry.
He has come to you so that you can shield his business. If you don’t get how this business is concluded, he will never trust you. Everybody wants God and lawyers to understand things without having said anything. If you don’t know how business is done, you wouldn’t even ask the right questions.
Quick tip: before speaking to your client at length about the services he wants, figure out how business is done in his domain or industry. Talk to those who may have some idea. Tell him what he has not conceived of or doesn’t know. And remember that every good businessman knows some law.
2. At the beginning of your career, you need to establish your expertise with every client.
Heck, some clients will even take pride in knowing more than you. If you let them get away thinking that way, you are twisted. Your bills are even more screwed.
They need to know that you are the expert – and the only way they’ll understand this is if you can tell them how the law you are talking about is related to their business. That is the job of a lawyer – to explain to him how his business realities interact with the law. If you don’t get the business part, you will simply be ineffective.
Quick tip: Listen to your client – before paying money to come to you, he or she is most likely to have imagined of some strategy. If you don’t get that out first and deal with it, it will come in the way of what you need to do ultimately.
3. This is how you compete with more experienced lawyers and brand names.
There would always be more skilled lawyers. You are competing with them for clients. More experienced lawyers are not preferred because they know more law! The laws are the same for all the lawyers. It is just that because they have been about for long, they know the business better. People in the business find it easy to operate with them.
However, something has changed over time – as I said earlier, there is some very different sort of new age businesses around these days – and even the most of the rest are also being forced to change the way they do things pretty rapidly. E-commerce, for example, has shaken traditional business models across geography and business size. Many young lawyers are taking advantage of the rapidly changing business scenario, by building an in-depth understanding of profitable business niches. We saw this happening in Regulatory Litigation in the last decade. This happened with startups, this is still taking place with cybercrime practice. Now we have law firms specializing in education, and startups focusing just on business registration and licenses. Some lawyers have built empires just by doing labor law compliances.