Listen Like a Lawyer is happy to bring you this guest post from a lawyer who wished to remain anonymous.
E-mail is really my favorite way to communicate. It’s just so much better. You can figure out exactly what you want to say before you send. You have a record of what you said and what the other person sent. And it’s good to see their words on the page so you can figure out the best way to react in the situation. Being able to email back and forth with people helps me keep my work day clear.
Clients don’t really care about a lot of hand-holding and face time. It takes up their time and mine. I bill for every minute I spent with them, and we all already know what we need to do. So what is the point anyway? We need to get on with it and get our work done. If they want to give me feedback, they can email their comments on whatever I send them when it’s most convenient for them.
When I do meet face to face with clients, what they really want is to be dealing with me an expert who knows the answer—right then. They want answers. But it’s a lot of pressure to come up with “the” answer right there on the spot. Being an effective lawyer means I have to think about what I’m going to say when they’re still talking.
Real conversations generally waste my time anyway. The other person thinks out loud and drones on and on. They’re not even sure what they’re really saying. Or they’re venting about their issue, and that’s just not productive. When I’m stuck in a long meeting or conversation, everyone understands that I will be checking my phone. As a lawyer, I have to keep up with what could be more urgent in that moment.
The truth is I’m a bad listener, and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not like a person can get better at listening. I’ll never be able to dunk the basketball or sing an aria, and I’ll never be a good listener. People who work with me get used to it after a while.
Happy April Fools’ Day!