Who was the first to say:

All other things being equal people want to do business with people (lawyers) they know, like and trust.

In his book “The Likeability Factor,” Tim Sanders includes a chapter on “The Four Elements of Likeability.” Those elements are:

    • • Friendliness
    • • Relevance
    • • Empathy
    • • Realness (authenticity)

They say our country wants to elect a President the majority knows, likes and trusts. The 2016 election may have changed that. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had unfavorabilty ratings over 50%.

I learned a great deal from President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, President Reagan and President Clinton. Each of those Presidents connected with their audience. In varying degrees they each demonstrated friendliness, relevance, empathy and realness.

Many young lawyers I coached believed they were at a competitive disadvantage because of their age and experience. I said that was the wrong way to think. I told young lawyers to focus on what they were, not on what they weren’t

When I coached young lawyers I shared with them that about 10% of legal work is “bet the company.” Clients will hire the best-known senior “go to” lawyer to handle that work.

At the other end, about 20% to 30% of legal work is commodity work. Clients will hire whoever is willing to do that work for the lowest price. Lawyers in a firm of any size, are not able to compete on price and would not want to compete on price.

Finally, at least 60% of legal work is neither bet the company or commodity work. Clients will hire lawyers they like and trust and with whom they feel some connection.

How can you position yourself to have the best opportunity to be hired by clients for that work? First, you have to be a capable lawyer. But, that will not be enough. You need to also be likeable with the elements Tim Sanders describes. You need to be friendly. Tim Sanders uses a quote from Bert Drecker, a communication expert:

“If you want to get your message across . . .., You must first persuade the listeners first brain that you represent warmth, comfort and safety.”

Next, you must be relevant. As a lawyer that means understanding your client’s industry and company and understanding your client contact’s needs.

Next, you need to be empathetic. You must be able to see things from your client’s point of view. To do that you need to ask relevant questions and then listen, listen, listen.

Finally, you need to be real. Have you ever said about a person:

What you see is what you get.

If you have, then you know what being real means.