You don’t know what you don’t know, until it is too late!
“You don’t know what you don’t know son”, the immortal words of a bespectacled, older and greyer colleague of mine when I lamented what I saw as the stupidity of the predicament of a client of mine in my very early years as a brash young lawyer. Those comments have stayed with me over the years and have, in part at least, driven my belief that the best lawyers focus on being proactive.

The other driver has been the many hard conversations with clients who are being sued, screwed or both! During my time as a lawyer there has been one constant theme that has emerged from almost every single piece of litigation, the “what if” and the “if only”. I have heard only too often words like “if only I had of known” “I should have read that more closely before I signed it”, “If I had my time over again I would have put that in writing”, “Why didn’t Mum/Dad get advice before they signed their Will?”.

Despite being nagged by my desire to be proactive it took until late 2015 for me to finally work out how I could be proactive as a lawyer and prevent my clients from ending up in court, or if they did end up in court put them in a far stronger positon than they would have been otherwise.

My view is that a proactive lawyer looks for problems before they arise, they talk to their clients and get to know and understand their clients and their client’s business, they practice preventatively rather than reactively. To use another analogy, the proactive lawyer is the stretches before and after exercise rather than the physio when you tear a muscle or the daily exercise and diet rather than the surgeon’s knife.

Being a proactive lawyer is not a glamorous or “sexy” way to practice law, in fact it is probably less lucrative than being a successful commercial litigator! It is however probably one of the most fulfilling ways to practice law.
Being proactive allows for a relationship to be built, for the services provided to be understood and appreciated. I am given an opportunity to help educate and add value to the client and to their business by building resilience, capabilities and understanding to help the client and the business protect themselves from those who want to sue or screw them, or both.

To help me and my colleagues at Cooke & Hutchinson diagnose problems and provide solutions we visit businesses and work through our own process that we call our Business Health Snapshot. All you have to do to find out what you don’t know is give us a call and make a time to have chat. It costs you nothing to talk to us and it might just save you, your family and your business a whole lot more than money in the long run.
You don’t know what you don’t know.