When Clients Question Your Age (It’s Not About Your Age)
I’m turning thirty years old this month. When I started my law practice straight out of law school, I was 25. Even now, I look extremely young for my age. Imagine how young I looked at 25 and very green behind the ears.
Back when I first started, I used to get many clients asking me “How old are you?” or simply stating to me, “You look young.” When it’s posed as a statement, I simply appear to be flattered. However, when it’s positioned as a question, how do you answer? Do I tell them I’m 25? Do I tell them I just graduated from law school? Do I tell them I’ve only handled a handful of cases to completion (if even that much)?
I came to realize that what my clients wanted to know wasn’t my age. They could care less about how old I was. What they were really asking was, “Do you have the experience and expertise to handle my case?” What clients care about is their case and their situation.
Answer your clients real question before they ask it
When I realized that was the client’s real question, I set out to revamp my client experience and interaction. I realized that if I were to have a shot at retaining clients despite my youthful appearance, I simply had to answer their real question before they even asked it. Before any clients come into the office to meet with me, I do an intensive intake with them over the phone. I’m careful to not give precise legal advice about their situation, but I listen to them at length and I inform them of the law. Doing this type of extensive intake familiarizes me with the client’s facts before they come into the office and builds confidence and trust as I’m able to tell them their situation. By the time the client makes an appointment to come into the office, there is no doubt in the client’s mind that I know the law and I know how to handle their situation.
Nowadays, I rarely, if ever, get asked how old I am. In fact, that question stopped about two years into my practice once I got my system of intake set up and I knew my area of law well enough.
If you think you have a weakness, work hard not simply to overcome it, but embrace it and turn it to your advantage.
Gabriel is a divorce lawyer in Boston. Visit his divorce blog at http://gabrielcheonglaw.com.