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Make Sure Your Hard Work Benefits Your Clients Long-Term

My partner, Hank Didier, and I are writing a 4-part blog on how we, as legal advocates for plaintiffs, can be better “lawyers” for our clients. Being a better lawyer is not just about getting the best result, but is also about making sure such results have a lasting impact and provide long-term financial stability for your clients.

Over the next week we will comment on 12 ways you can ensure your hard work will provide a lasting legacy. Some of it may overstep the bounds of traditional lawyering, but your willingness to go above and beyond for your client is what sets you apart from the rest. Time is a commodity for us all, but many of our tips are messages you can weave into your client conversations along the way, or leave as parting advice during your last session together. The point is, often, it doesn’t take a lot of time to make a big difference is someone’s life.

The first four ways to become a better lawyer with respect to providing your clients long term stability are:

  1. Have an open door policy. Make sure they know they can come back to you – with questions, future legal needs, for advice, or for whatever challenges they may face. Most of them won’t hound you as much as you fear they will, and the good will you create could pay dividends in case referrals. At the end of the day, when a client knows you have an open door for whatever their needs may be, you have given him or her peace of mind in knowing they have access to a trusted advocate.
  1. Protect them from themselves. This can be difficult, but even a five-minute discussion could open their eyes. We have all seen clients spend through all of the monies gained through a settlement or trial in a short time, or seen former clients lose everything through unsavory deals or poor decisions. Is it necessarily our job as lawyers to do so? No, but sharing our wisdom based upon our experience could be enough to make them think twice before entering into a questionable transaction or irresponsible purchase. As advocates, it may not be our job, but, as lawyers, we are better serving our clients’ interests when we take the time to give them guidance.
  1. Try to understand their plan for their money. With a glimpse into your clients’ future plans, and knowing what their needs and means may be, you as a lawyer are in a unique position to help put your client on a path to financial security. At a minimum, we should try to form a basic understanding of what our clients plan to do, and we should help point them in the right direction. What are the family dynamics? How else will they generate income? Do they have big expenses on the horizon? If you see a cycle of poor financial decision-making, speak up and try to break it before it’s too late. And, of course, if money management is a long-term issue of concern, then we should recommend that they find a competent and trusted financial advisor.
  1. Make sure to arm your clients with basic financial literacy. In the financial quiz we posted in July, we shared that 85% of Americans couldn’t correctly answer a 5-question financial quiz. And, in Florida, 23% of households reported they spent more than their income, not including the purchase of a new home, car or other big investment. Some of our clients are going to be handed a lump sum of money … do what you can to help them avoid becoming a statistic for financial disaster. One key component to providing such help is trying to arm them with a basic understanding of sound financial decision-making. There is a wealth of resources available for clients and we should encourage our clients to look at these tools.

Look for part two tomorrow.

Jay Fisher is co-founder of Vantage Capital Consultants, a purchaser of structured settlements and annuities.

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