Thankfully the mid-term elections have come and gone. Sadly, does that mean the 2020 campaigning will begin right away? As I have been reading and listening to the pundits talk about the Republicans gaining seats in the Senate while losing seats in the House, I thought there may be some lessons for lawyers.

While the two political parties may not get it, as a lawyer, the lessons you should take away are painfully obvious. Here is my list:

  1. Never take clients for granted. More people voted in this mid-term election than ever before. Why? They wanted to send a message. The morning after the election I read: Midterm voters are angry and divided, but still believe in the power of the voteIt pretty clear that the demographics of the voters in changing. For some time the Republicans have taken for granted suburban voters and the Democrats have taken for granted minority voters. Your clients will sense when you are taking them for granted and will go to another lawyer or firm just to make the point to you.
  2. Don’t attack your competitor’s values. President Obama made a mistake on Sunday by making a demeaning remark about Scott Brown’s truck.

    You will make a mistake by poking fun at your competitor’s values.

  3. Listen before taking action. I believe the republicans did a poor job of listening in 2006 and 2008 and the democrats have done a poor job ever since. Instead of listening they have been dismissive of people who disagree. Listening is a lost art. As a lawyer you will be better able to address specific client needs that may not be obvious if you just take time to listen. Top Lawyer Coach recently posted a blog with 4 ways to show clients you are wholeheartedly listening.
  4. All things being equal, clients would prefer to hire lawyers they know, like and trust. Likeability is still an important component in elections and it is equally important in decisions clients make when they choose a lawyer.
  5. Go the extra mile. Scott Brown traveled throughout the state in his truck and made 66 campaign appearances and stood outside Fenway Park greeting fans attending the annual outdoor Bruins hockey game.

    Martha Coakley made only 19 campaign appearances and mocked Scott Brown for standing out in the cold. You will not likely be able to distinguish yourself based on your legal ability. There are many lawyers as talented as you are. You will be able to distinguish yourself on how much you care about your clients when you go the extra mile.

  6. Don’t make silly mistakes about your client. Martha Coakley somehow believed famed Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was a Yankees fan.

    That would be the equivalent of calling your client by its chief competitor’s name or representing company A and showing up for a client meeting with it’s chief competitor’s product.

  7. Use social media to connect with clients. President Obama used social media very effectively. Martha Coakley did not. Social media is a tool to listen, build relationships and share ideas.
  8. It’s not your case or transaction. It’s your client’s. Scott Brown famously answered David Gergen’s loaded question by saying “it is not Ted Kennedy’s seat and not the democrat’s seat. It’s the people’s seat.” It is your client’s case or transaction, not yours. So you must understand their goals and work to help them achieve those goals.
  9. Show a passion for what you are doing and about your client. Scott Brown conveyed to the voters that he was passionate about working for them. Martha Coakley ran a dispassionate logic based campaign. I like the phrase that our clients don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.
  10. Keep your message simple and easily understandable. Scott Brown did this well. The democrats have struggled explaining a complicated 2000 plus page health care bill. Your clients want to understand the advice you are giving them. Say it without all the legalese.
  11. Get to know your clients on a personal level. Scott Brown let the voters get to know him on a personal level. Martha Coakley did not talk about her personal life while campaigning. Your clients want to know you both as a person and a lawyer.
  12. Work well with your colleagues. The democrats did not work well together, probably because they did not believe they needed to. Now they are pointing fingers at each other. Too many law firms are silos of lawyers competing with each other. Law firm silos cannot compete against law firm teams.