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Your Irrelevance is Not My Arrogance

Scott Greenfeld has the gang going at Simple Justice.  Non-lawyers are furious that lawyers simply do not value their legal opinion.  That's what society has come to: Non-specialists think you're arrogant for not validating them.  Commenting about my post, a commenter writes:

Your "update" evidences what I'm reacting to: Your clients are right to think you resent them and look down your nose at them if you regularly demonstrate the attitudes described in the excerpt from Mike's post.

You're running a small business and don't care how your customers feel about your service. Anyone with such attitudes should expect to, and deserves to, make less money than a competing business that values their customers and acts like it.

What in the world is wrong with the world?

I know some things very well.  What I know well is probably .000000000000000000001% of the universe of knowledge.  In the cosmic scheme of things, I am irrelevant and know nothing.

But if you need me, what I know is almost 100% of you need.  Chances are, you know almost nothing about what I know.  We simply have nothing interesting to talk about.  I will gladly tell you what I know.  You simply have nothing to contribute to the discussion.

Is that arrogance?  No.  It's a recognizing of specialization and accomplishment.  Over the past several years, I have devoted thousands of hours to doing something that you've never done.  And when I need an expert, I have the humility to shut up.

If my car breaks down, I know nothing.  I do not demand that the mechanic listen to my advice.  I do not print out articles from USA Today about how another mechanic fixed some other car in half the time - and pro bono.

Instead, I seek out a reputable mechanic.  (Yes, they exist.)  I get an estimate for his services; ask for evaluation of the necessity of his service; and if I retain him, write the check or swipe the card.  I call him once in a while for an update.  Mostly, I sit back and let the expert work.

I recognize that I know nothing.  I have nothing useful to contribute.  I am irrelevant - which is, from my perspective, a good thing.  Pity the client who has to tell the mechanic how to work - what an incompetent mechanic you must have hired!

While a non-lawyer wouldn't dare tell a mechanic how to do an oil change (which is easy!), a non-lawyer will badger a lawyer about lawyering.  Why does the client think he knows anything at all about lawyering?

Attitudes about lawyering reminds me of attitudes about fighting.  

People who have never been in a fight in their entire lives lives will, over wings and beers at Hooter's with their guts flapping over their Levis, declare that they could of course beat up a UFC fighter in a "street fight."  That professional fighters train several hours a day and endure more pain in an hour than most of us endure in a year, doesn't seem to register.  That most professional fighters have themselves actually been in "street fights" doesn't factor in.  Nope.  Simply living means you can fight.

People think that simply existing in a world where there are laws means that everyone can be a lawyer - no training or practice required.  

Disabusing someone of this nonsense is as pointless as explaining how swiftly anyone who watches UFC would be dispatched by a professional fighter.  As Mike Tyson pointedly told a heckler, "You wouldn't last 5 minutes in my world!"  He's right: We wouldn't. 

The truth won't stop everyone at the bar from talking shit.  Just as every non-lawyer thinks they best know how to win in court.