I subscribe to the Anonymous Lawyer blog, a pretty funny and satiric look at large law firms. I was catching up on some old posts and this excerpt caught my eye. It is pretty funny and, at the same time, does ring true to a degree:
Clients need to be impressed. That’s how we get them to pay us money and keep hiring us. So if getting some documents out the door quickly is going to impress a client, even if those documents don’t have much use outside of that purpose, it’s still worth it. We do lots of things of questionable outside value to impress clients. We yell at people during meetings to impress clients about how demanding we are and how committed to their case we feel. We spend extra hours on tasks that don’t take that much time in order to demonstrate to clients how important those tasks are, and how we have to triple-check every citation just to make sure there aren’t any mistakes, even if it takes a few more billable hours. We assign associates from prestigious law schools to the matter, not because they’re competent but because telling the clients there are Yale-educated lawyers working on the case impresses them. We take them on expensive lunches, which they end up being billed for somehow anyway, to prove how prestigious we are as a firm. Lots of things to impress clients.
Impressing clients is our business. Not legal work. It’s a fallacy people have. Like television networks. The business there is selling advertisements. In order to do so, they need to have programs people want to watch. So they spend a lot of money and time developing programs. But that’s just to sell ads. And when people forget that, and complain about the quality of programming on TV, as if the networks care about the quality independent of how much they can charge for the ads they’re selling, that’s when things get silly. Same thing with us. Our business isn’t winning cases and helping our clients navigate the sophisticated landscape of the legal system, or whatever the marketing brochures say. Our business is impressing them enough that they keep paying us money. Whether we do that by helping them win their disputes, or we do it by getting them useless documents as fast as we can, it doesn’t matter. They’re both legitimate ways to spend our time.