Successful lawyers don’t sell, they educate

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Don’t sell, educate

One of the first pieces of advice I was given when I entered this profession was not to be selling, but to always be educating.

Over the lifetime of my career I’ve found this small bit of advice to be invaluable. Yes, both the audience [from clients to partners] and the content [the law to coaching] of the ‘educating’ has changed over time – which is only natural given the many varying roles I have had in this profession, but by and large the principle has remained.

Given the above, I find it strange that a growing number of consultants have jumped on the bandwagon that “lawyers don’t sell time, they sell value“, when the reality is they sell neither – what they do sell is expertise.

Which is to say: successful lawyers educate their clients on the potential outcomes of a particular activity or inactivity.

In other words, in “A+B = C”, your lawyer should be educating you on what ‘C’ is before you do ‘A+B’ or else advising you how you can get out of the problems that being in ‘C’ is causing you.

As always, ultimately it will be up to you, as the client, to determine whether or not you wish to proceed with your lawyer’s advice; but, in any event, that lawyer is neither selling you ‘time’ nor ‘value’.

Yes, the currency in which the lawyer is getting paid may be determined [at least in part] by time and/or perceived value, but this is not the same as saying the product being sold is time or value.

So, the next time a legal industry consultant tells you not to sell time but rather to be selling value, I would like to suggest that you respond:

“I don’t sell, I educate.”

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