Your attention momentarily grabbed by this perhaps alarming headline, I’must first make clear (particularly to Lisa my partner) that I have not slept with any lawyers when researching this article.
My findings are, at best, entirely circumstantial, certainly with regard to whether they should be taken as potential proof for the main thrust (so to speak) of the contention.
So, what exactly is my point? How could I be so damning? What possible basis could there be for such a serious assertion?
The answer is all around us in the way lawyers think, in the way lawyers work and in the way lawyers relate to their clients. Let me explain.
- Self gratification: Whatever their specialism, lawyers do not easily interpret the underlying needs or the interests of their clients beyond the legal brief; instead they tend to work to their own agenda and in the way that suits their best interests. They work in their comfort zone, adopting a familiar style and method regardless of what the client has asked for or wants. This typical “we know best” attitude is potentially patronising even when well intentioned and tends to be a turn-off even if the result can be justified as being technically proficient.
- Knowledge is not the same as skill: Lawyers do not understand that knowledge of the law is not the same as providing an empathetic, client centric service. Expertise is obviously important but it is also the expected norm for most clients (whether they are well informed or otherwise). So the fact that lawyers know their way around the law, have all the right equipment and know how to use it, is not ever going to be a significant distinguishing factor. However, what is genuinely valued by clients is a sense of thoughtfulness, of care and integrity. The appearance of the lawyer who is seen to be working hard for the client is therefore often much more prized than the end result.
- Of course I love you: Lawyers nearly always fail to articulate the value they have added. Why this should be is a mystery but the assumption they appear to make is that the client is bound to appreciate their efforts otherwise they would not have hired them in the first place. This has a disturbing resonance with the parallel question relevant to my hypothesis “You do love me don’t you?” being greeted with the response “I’m here aren’t I”! Actually, “being there” is not enough. Value has to be shown because otherwise we rely on the assumption that value will be seen and assumptions are always very dangerous things to make
- Trust me I am a lawyer: The client, in most cases, is in an emotionally vulnerable position when instructing a lawyer. Things for them may have not gone well or alternatively a new development is planned but one with uncertainty as to the right course or the ultimate outcome. Going to lawyers therefore is a stressful thing to do yet because the lawyer has been there and done it usually many times before they at least have the wherewithal to reassure, to comfort and to encourage the client to relax and trust in the experience that is now deployed on their behalf. Why then do lawyers invariably fail to manage the sensibilities of their clients? Why instead do they appear far too often to behave with an arrogant distain for the trust that must be given to them?
- Not another one night stand: Lawyers are really hopeless at seeing the wider possibilities in a client relationship. If the client’s needs in one area have been satisfied, why not see if their needs in other areas could be equally well satisfied? Yet too often lawyers seem to have a one track mind. However, success in one deal on one occasion is not always enough. Clients generally expect much more these days. If the client is to come back (again and again) then the whole experience has to be right and that includes at least knowing what else might suit the client’s needs and how those needs might be met.
- Me? afraid of commitment? Commitment is also something that lawyers appear nervous about. They say all the right things of course. Like “we are looking for a long term mutually profitable relationship”, and “We would love you to become an established client”. Then, however, it goes wrong and good intentions fall by the wayside. The test always is that actions will speak louder than words. Too often, after early promises and lots of sweet talking the phone calls are not returned, post goes unanswered for days on end, promised meetings are postponed. Worst of all the client is palmed off on some junior team member and the so called relationship partner becomes a fading memory. If clients are treated in this way is it any wonder that they look elsewhere for a service that will meet their needs?
So are lawyers really rubbish in bed? Who knows, but it would seem that many are not always sensitive to needs, lack the insight to know that technical prowess is not enough, rarely understand what the client will value, allow their greater experience to be mistook for arrogance, fail to develop relationships beyond the initial act and also give the impression of being scared of commitment!
If any of this strikes a chord with you then perhaps we should be concerned after all for the bedroom skills of the second oldest profession in the world.