The Top 10 Lies Clients Tell You

Posted on May 25, 2013 in Planning & Advisors

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OK, I’ll confess that my feathers are a little ruffled today (maybe a case of a bad night’s sleep), but seeing Guy Kawaskai’s Top Ten (Sixteen) Lies of Lawyers just stuck in my craw. I can handle lawyer jokes just fine, but after seeing so many entrepreneurs shoot themselves in the foot because they were too scared/cheap/undercapitalized to seek the expert legal advice they really needed, after a while, enough is enough.  Lawyer-bashing is certainly not a recent phenomenon, but its prevalence is like watching The Flavor of Love: first, it’s dopey entertainment; then, it becomes just plain stupid; finally, I just want to smash the television for projecting this nonsense. (That’s when I yell at my husband to change the channel).Â

I’m not saying that lawyers are perfect or immune from these things (and I thank fellow Entrepreneur blogger Tim Berry for putting a soft touch to the issue), but remember this: Lawyers get lied to, too. So do other service providers.  Here’s the top 10 lies I’ve been told over the years. For entrepreneurs, all I can ask is: don’t be these people. Service providers will probably nod their heads in recognition: €œI a€™m eager to get started right away.  So am I. Is your initial deposit for fees as forthcoming as your desire to get started?Â

2. €œI just need something simple. I know you’d like something simple, but when you’re entering into a strategic alliance with an out-of-state company to market and develop intellectual property to children, there are a couple of issues that need to be handled delicately. A one-page agreement won’t protect you.3.  €œI need this done yesterday.€? No, you don’€™t. Unless someone is about to hang on Death Row, or you’re going to run up against an inviolable statutory deadline, it’s not an emergency. Not that I’ll sit on it, but working until 3am because you woke up yesterday and decided you needed to sell your business today is not my problem. Your failure to plan is not my emergency.Â

4.                 “This wasn’t my fault.â€? There are at least three versions of a dispute: yours, theirs, and The Truth, which lies somewhere in between. It’s exceedingly rare that someone has been an angel from heaven and the other side Hades Incarnate. If I don’t know your downside, it’s hard to advise you properly.

5.                 “The last lawyer was an idiot, but I hear you’re terrific.â€? I’m not a gambling woman, but I’d bet odds in Vegas that you said that to the last lawyer, too. If you’ve hired and fired more than one other person before me for the same project, you’re probably no better than my philandering college boyfriend who left a trail of broken hearts. And unpaid debts.Â

6.                 “This company will be huge and have a lot of work to throw your way.â€? This is usually raised in the context of trying to get me to reduce my rates. There’s a reason it’s called a “volume discountâ€?: you provide me with the volume first and then I’ll give you the discount. When I give the discount first, I’m usually left hanging, waiting for the volume. Â

7.                 “The bookkeeper didn’t come in this week/month/quarter/had a death in the family.â€? And that paralyzes your hand from writing a check?

8.                 “This wasn’t what I asked for.â€? Usually said after a client has changed her mind 37 times since the beginning of the project.Â

9.                 “This cost me a lot more than you promised.â€?  Did I really promise? Did I guarantee a fee? No, I estimated, based upon the amount of time I thought would be involved. Time expands to fill the number of changes you request to a project. See mind changing, #8.

10.             “I sent the check last week.â€?  Need I say more?Â


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