Do you remember when tired old tedes told you when you were a trainee
Sir Woke XR Re… 03 Mar 21 15:20
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“Clients don’t really care how good a lawyer you are”

Have you ever met a client of which this was actually true?

I haven’t.

I’ve always sought to compete on the basis of my technical ability as a lawyer alone.

I’ve usually won. Not always ofc.

yes i hear this a lot

often accompanied by mutterings that so and so lawyers are not very commercial

Funnily enough I have over the past 12 months been roped into doing some professional negligence work involving solicitors at other firms and at my firm. The clients in question now seem incredibly concerned about the technical/legal side of the advice over commercial awareness

Clients tucking definitely care whether or not you’re a good lawyer; and, if you happen to meet one who doesn’t, make sure you decline their instructions ASAP, as they are not the kind of person with whom a self respecting professional should associate.

Lots of clients will shop around until they get the negligent advice they want to hear from a sol / bazza

”Charlie Tan is bullish on tax avoidance, let’s speak to him”

When you're right about something Laz, you are very right. As you are on this.

And re the "being commercial" point, building on what Jamie said, I think it's actually a superior form of commercial nous to see that (i) the kind of clients you want to act for are the kind who do care about it, and (ii) demonstrating your ability through your work is the best kind of marketing there is.

100% eeyore

hotnow - I have been told that the only reason a certain magic circle firm is so popular with PE houses is that its partners are very willing to sign off stuff with an unequivocal yes. No qualifications in the advice (tho maybe in the engagement letter). This is apparently viewed as being “commercial”.

Re: the OP - I think it's more accurate to say: "most clients are not in a position to tell how good a lawyer you are".

However, they are in a position to tell how easy you are to work with, how clear your advice is, and how much you appear to understand their business.

I think the clients who "Don't care about technical ability" are the same clients who "Don't like a full disclosure of proof of funds"...

most of my clients are in a position to tell how good a lawyer I am tbh

I think only a small proportion of mine can tell.

The idea that, once you reach a certain level of PQE, it can be assumed you know what you are doing is a much stinkier heap of bullshit. TBF it is mainly recruiters who trot out that line, but I have seen people repeat that on RoF.

I would say that probably only about 30% of the partners I have ever worked with were good at their jobs.

I agree with that. There is a lot of “mythos of the partner” (as evidenced on the “trainees working from home” thread with the assumption that it should be partners trainees sit with if they want to learn). But most people are mediocre at their jobs no matter how senior they are. Most CEOs are mediocre at their jobs, which is why turnover of CEOs is so high. I’ve worked with plenty of big average people or worse in all the desirable megajobs, banking, consultancy, private equity. I’ve worked with people in big name PE who didn’t know their arse from their elbow, and bulge bracket MDs I wouldn’t trust to sit the right way round on a toilet seat.

They take it for granted you're a good lawyer, otherwise you wouldn't be at that firm. You, of all people Laz, should be able to add the extra.

Ok, they might say. If you're not up to it, I'll call Clifford Chance.

I am a client now and I very much care how good a lawyer my external lawyer is...but I now have a very different view of what makes a good lawyer. In some cases it is technical ability but rarely if I'm honest.

@Chambers - taking it for granted that someone is a good lawyer because they are at a certain firm is a big mistake.

I have worked at a few places that are supposedly great firms, but there were some shockingly bad lawyers as partners. There were also some very good partners, but in my experience there seems to be little correlation between market reputation and competence.

chambers mate

if there’s one thing on which you are not expert, it’s how clients see lawywrs