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What every lawyer needs

Tomorrow we'll get back to the PTAB Trial decision and why the PTAB needs oversight. For today, let’s walk through and discuss "what every lawyer needs" in discrete steps.

What’s the first thing that jumps to mind about what every lawyer needs?

  • a license to practice law?
  • an office?
  • a law firm?
  • a telephone?
  • a computer?

Sure, all of those things are relevant and make sense. Here’s my thought.

And I borrowed this from something I read a while back. Can't name the source because it's been a long while. A strong answer is: a client.

And that’s basically right to a degree. Every lawyer needs a client because that’s the customer. The client pays the bills and provides the crux of what the lawyer tries to provide a solution for. But the more I’ve thought about this over the years, the answer is more subtle. The answer became more subtle over time. This is the evolution of my thinking.

So let's walk through it; what does every lawyer need:

  1. a client - the customer (a great start);
  2. a client coupled with some form of relationship with the lawyer (there needs to be some type of connection to the client - the ABA rules and such);
  3. a client, some form of relationship, and then a legal problem (without a problem, there’s nothing for the lawyer to do, despite a pre-existing relationship with a well-heeled client);
  4. a client, a relationship, a legal problem, and also a legal expertise relevant to the problem (can you understand the problem that exists and figure out how to approach the problem, or can someone you know figure it out); and
  5. a client, where there's a relationship, that has a legal problem, that you can figure out because there's some type of general legal expertise, for which you or your network have a fundamental basis to address that problem (do your skills match the problem being faced by this client, that you know, such that you can help provide the solution because there is a matching of legal subject matter that matches for this factual scenario).

That's quite a bit to match a lawyer and client together to get to the right answer. Maybe.

Generally, for this exercise, it’s not enough that the lawyer has a potential client (e.g., a relationship). But the lawyer needs a client, with a problem, that the lawyer can solve.

Pulling it all together, a lawyer needs a client, that the lawyer has some type of relationship with (to avoid solicitation issues), and that client has a legal problem, for which the lawyer has some general legal expertise to address the problem, and that the lawyer can actually solve that problem.

Short answer - every lawyer needs a client with a problem that needs to be solved. But there are a lot of hoops in between if you are going to be that specific lawyer hired for the project.

Contacts with a potential client are a good start, a great start even, but you better be able to deliver that solution.