One of the more interesting aspects of my job as a transactional attorney is representing different types of clients. Over our nearly 20 years we have been fortunate at Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler to have clients that run the gamut from individuals, to so-called Mom & Pop businesses, to mid-size entities, all the way to Fortune 500 companies.While it is great to have large, wealthy, and sophisticated clients (and don’t let anyone tell you differently), the challenges of representing those types of individuals and companies can be significantly different than those involved in counseling those who do not fall into one or more of those categories. Let’s call them the “Not so Fat Cats” or “NFCs”. (This is not to say there aren’t a lot of things that are essentially the same in how you deal with all clients, e.g., courtesy, respect, responsiveness, understanding their needs, and zealous representation.)
Often an NFC may be looking to their attorney to help them identify issues that are or may be important to them when compared to other matters that are not likely to be (whether by being relatively immaterial to the bottom line, less likely to be relevant, being an issue as to which the other party to the transaction may be inflexible, or otherwise). Obviously, the more you know about your client and their wants and desires, the easier it is to provide this type of counsel. In this regard, communication is paramount and you should endeavor to make it a two-way street. In dealing with an NFC, this may entail both of you making an additional investment of time to ensure the client understands the potential risks attendant with the issues, and that you have an enhanced understanding of how the issues might impact the specific client.
In many instances, the matters you work on for an NFC will be matters of direct or immediate personal concern and importance to the client. In these situations, the client may have an emotional attachment to a transaction or otherwise be personally invested in a matter. This can have an impact on their judgment, and also your interaction with the client. Knowing that this is the case or otherwise understanding the prism through which the NFC views the deal, can greatly aid in your successful and harmonious representation of a client.
Additionally, while almost every client is cost-conscious, the concern with costs is often a paramount concern to an NFC. By keeping an NFC apprised of what you are doing, how you are doing it, and why, you may help alleviate or, at least, reduce issues with billing later. (This is true even if you have a signed representation letter describing the scope of services for which you are being engaged, as well as how fees and expenses will be billed to and payable by the client.) In essence, you are establishing or reaffirming your value and the value of your services which, sadly, do not always seem to stay in the forefront of a client’s mind.
While each and every client is different and they all bring specific challenges, keeping the foregoing points in mind when representing an NFC client may lead to a more successful and pleasant attorney-client relationship.
by Todd A. Schafer, Member, Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC