Lawyers like to “should” on themselves and others

Part of being a lawyer in the business of keeping business people out of court is being a big time "party pooper."  Don’t do this, don’t do that, be careful or else….

This generally makes for unhappy people, because that mindset usually doesn’t stop there.  Lawyers "should" on themselves too:  As a lawyer, you should wear a suit, you should work for a big law firm, you should make a lot of money, you shouldn’t appear weak, you shouldn’t have a blog (or should you?), you should have all the answers all the time, and the list goes on and on.   Unfortunately, many lawyers will represent the "shoulds" more loyally and fervently than their client’s interests.  They over-lawyer to make more money; they create issues to appear smart; they give answers that are not really answers, just to say something;  they look down on you for asking supposedly "silly" questions; they fail to explain so that a normal human being can understand.

Why "should" you care as a client?  Unhappy lawyers are bad lawyers, not only for the above obvious reasons.  Look for lawyers who break away from the pack, the trend-setters, the happy people, the people who can admit that they don’t know (but know where to look it up); they are brave and creative people.  They take care of themselves and others.  They will tell you when you "should" and explain why, but they will also tell you to march on confidently and take risks in stride.  They will make you feel like somebody cares.

I had a client tell me the other day that I was the first lawyer she’d spoken to that didn’t make her feel intimidated or stupid.  That made my day. 

About Imke Ratschko


Imke Ratschko is a New York Attorney helping small businesses, business owners and entrepreneurs with all things "Small Business Law," such as litigation, contracts, business owner disputes, shareholder and operating agreements, sale or purchase of a business, investors, and starting a business. You can reach her at 212.253.1027.

One comment

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