The thought behind answering this question came whilst I was on holiday recently in Lisbon. A lovely place which I can highly recommend as a place to visit! Anyway, we were taking in the sites and fell in with an American group and we started to chit-chat.
When asked, I explained how I was head of the real estate team in Manchester and that we did all manner of transactions for all manner of clients. A pretty vanilla and uninformative answer so far! But when asked ‘who are your clients?’ I had to try that bit harder. Whilst I am proud that I have the honour of calling those who instruct the department, our clients, I was not so sure that this would translate to the questioner who hailed from California.
So I answered as follows:
‘We act for a range of clients, some are listed public companies, some owner led businesses, entrepreneurs, retailers, historic family businesses and institutions. The key to our work is the art of communication. There are many, many lawyers with the same high understanding of solving issues and hammering out transactions but what we work on is the manner in which we deliver the advice.'
'An entrepreneur investor wants immediate and distilled advice to back up, or challenge, their instincts. Institutions and publicly listed company wants process and uniform systems which can work with their internal systems. A generational family business wants to build long standing relationships and friendships and wants you to understand that these are equally important as commerce. A rapidly expanding retail franchisor wants you to action, process and communicate progressively and constantly. Some clients want written reports, others want to talk on the phone’
'So our role is to communicate and our skill is to know how we need to communicate to our varied client base. We need and they want us to provide advice which allows them to best understand and process their legal options. Interestingly, not only do clients wish for different communication methods but they also instruct from different perspectives.’
‘For us, this is where our client base improves us. The art of negotiation is to understand the perspective of the party with whom you are negotiating with. Without understanding and negotiating in a way which takes account of what they want to achieve, it is often difficult, or impossible to agree the terms that your client needs. And whilst, to an extent, you can choose the clients you act for, you cannot choose the parties you negotiated with, and this is why our team offer a valuable perspective and advice to their clients. Our broad client base prepares us to negotiate effectively with the broad range of transactors that our clients need to deal with.’