“Haresh” arrived at my law office, visibly agitated. He thought he had taken all the right steps to start his clothing business. He had formed a corporation. His business partner, his childhood friend, “Neel,” shared his vision for growth. They had a written shareholders’ agreement. But now these 50/50 partners were deadlocked on how to achieve their vision, and the business was rapidly deteriorating. “I don’t understand – what happened?” Haresh pleaded. A quick look at the shareholders’ agreement revealed that it contained no method for resolving stalemates. No dispute resolution terms, no procedures for accountability between the partners . . . in fact, it lacked so many important provisions that I remember thinking a first-year associate working with a form book could have cobbled together a better document. “Who prepared this agreement?” I asked hesitantly. “My immigration attorney,” replied Haresh.
One of the great joys of general, solo, and small firm practice is the freedom to practice law exactly as you want. But Haresh’s story underscores one of the dangers and challenges of general, solo, and small firm practice: taking on too much, or in too foreign an area of expertise, and therefore failing to service clients properly. With everything a small firm practitioner must do — getting new clients, servicing the clients, billing the clients, and maintaining the relationship with the clients – how can you keep up?
In short, you need to focus on the three “C’s” of good lawyering (or good “fill-in-the-blank”ing):
Without these, your newest client may become your latest former client.