Yesterday, I was a Rhode Island lawyer whose book was judged by the cover and a prospective Divorce Client took the loss!
Authored By: Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a. " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "
Yesterday I had an appointment scheduled with a man who had already rescheduled his appointment once. Just before his appointment for his divorce advice session I saw him pull into the driveway.
The prospective client hesitated in his car in the parking area. He had been advised in the confirmation email that he would be coming to a residential area and that my office is located in the lower level of the split level house to save my client's money by eliminating expenses and lowering my fees and making a more comfortable, homelike environment so people could feel comfortable with their divorce lawyer.
The propective client looked around from the driveway at the raised ranch that houses my law practice. Then he drove away. No call that he wanted to cancel his appointment. No courtesy call to let know he wanted to reschedule. No call to explain why he chose to cancel.
For sixteen (16) years, I have dedicated my every effort to try to help the people of this state in our Rhode Island Family Courts, including mothers, fathers, children and even the court itself.
So yesterday, this prospective client judged a book by it's cover. He looked at the house and he didn't see a fancy law office on the outside. He didn't see a big sign with impressive lettering. He didn't see a BMW or a Jaguar in the driveway. So without seeing everything he expected to see in a traditional law firm he drove away without so much as a courtesy call to me as the lawyer inside. So I continued on with my work day.
Yet it was this prospective client's loss that he doesn't realize. What he didn't see was the lawyer in a business suit suit prepared to meet him inside behind an antique oak desk. What he didn't see was 16 years of experience waiting to inform him of his legal rights and answer his questions.
What the man didn't realize is that lawyers with a fancy law office must charge you more to pay for that law office. What the man didn't realize is that a fancy sign really means nothing. It simply costs more and tries to make you look more impressive. What he didn't realize was that a lawyer's BMW or Jaguar doesn't go into court for you. When all is said and done what is crucial is that you remember that the value you get is in the lawyer you hire. Your lawyer goes to court for you. Your lawyer argues your case. Your lawyer makes the difference. When you are impressed by desks, offices, secretaries, support staff, huge copiers, paralegals, etc... and you believe that gets you a better law firm, you're fooling yourself. When all is said and done it is your lawyer that makes the difference.
So the man yesterday drove away to his loss. What if he learned that he was getting a $250 per hour lawyer for $150 per hour. How would he feel after the fact realizing he could have obtained a lawyer with the same experience as the fancy looking law firm for $100 per hour LESS.
Focus is crucial when selecting a lawyer and appearances can be deceiving. It you have all the money in the world, then by all mean just pick the most expensive lawyer you can and hope you get a good one. If not, remember... don't judge a book by it's cover... you could be making a tremendously impractical mistake.