Application of Rule #1 to The Client Interview
Yes, you spotted a really simple solution to their issue as soon as they called you. DON’T be a smart aleck and tell them all they need is a $50 deed from a notary placing their property in joint tenancy; you’re not in law school now. You’re out – with student loans to pay, malpractice insurance to pay, office rent to pay, the surly secretary’s wages to pay; you’ve also got to shell out the pittance you pay the dyslexic file clerk, the car payment on the Lexus, the interest and late charges on the credit cards, and the spacerent on your Santa Monica abode. Not to mention the advertising on the bus stop and in the yellow pages that brought you this phone call in the first place. You’ve already calculated that you need to generate an average of $4,000 out of every phone call you take, even if it’s from your mother (who doesn’t call you anymore).
Your job is to reel these people in from their warm comfy homes, through the eerily quiet halls outside and into your dark gloomy office. They will pass the desk of your surly secretary, who will scowl at them as she points them towards the windowless conference room to the right of her desk. She makes sure they are squished against the back wall by the oversized table, leaving you to sit by the door, blocking their only exit. The space is so tight, they cannot get up and leave until you do. And you will not get up and leave until you have secured a check from them in the amount of $4,000. A non-refundable deposit.
You rub your hands gleefully at this prospect, watching the clock. They arrived at 1:55pm, a little early for their 2:00pm. You never, ever see anyone as soon as they walk in the door; keep them waiting at least 20 minutes, to let them see how busy you are. Make a call to your ex the clients won’t hear the words, just the yelling and screaming. They’ll know you’re the one to go to bat for them.
OK, get on in there, hoisting up the waistband of your pants as you enter the room – this lets them know you’re in charge, you don’t care what they think of you personally. Switch on the krieg light to momentarily blind them.
Start talking, as fast as you can; bombard them with every inapplicable legal scenario possible so that they are completely drained at the end of the hour, and convinced they need to establish a Cayman Islands trust which will set up a Nevada LLC to own their California property, in order to fix their title issue.
DO NOT pause for breath – this gives them a chance to ask a question. This is bad, really really bad, as it shows they took in at least some of what you said, and leaves you wide open to being caught stumbling and bumbling. If you regularly experience clients asking questions, it may be time to affect a tick, or sport a toupe or monocle to keep them distracted.
At all costs, get the check; it can be post-dated; in post-dated installments; even out of their grandmother’s trust account, although she’s the one who really owns the property at issue.
If they leave without their foreheads furrowed to the point where only a botox injection from the buxom beautician in the ground floor suite will separate their brows, you haven’t done your job, and you won’t get this week’s free massage.