Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Settlement Meeting Quiz

Cases can frequently be resolved by a simple phone call: “Hey, I got you a lot of money, let me settle your case”. The client hears this, is overjoyed and then promptly begins to complain when you give them their share of the settlement proceeds. However, not all clients and cases are this easy. There are those that require a face-to-face meeting. In the client’s home. With spreadsheets, pie-charts and a lot of caffeine.

Yesterday was my turn to take part in one of these meetings.

As I want you to learn (or at least laugh) from my experiences, I have a few questions for you that will allow you to focus on what really matters at these meetings. I’ve prepared a few questions for you based on my meeting yesterday.

Question 1: Upon entering a clients home for the first time you see is a large portrait of the client’s significant other portrayed as a celestial being (angelic looking...I think). You are ushered into the room for your meeting where said portrait is clearly the object that this room focuses on. Your client notices that you are ‘admiring’ this portrait and begins to talk about it. How do you respond?

  1. Compliment the artistic vision of the painter, but focus your most lavish praise upon the subject of this piece of “artwork”. Spend a lot of time talking about the way the light highlights her stunning facial features while stopping short of discussing the multiple chins.
  2. Stare at your feet, shuffle awkwardly and hide behind your partner until they stop looking at you.
  3. Compliment the client, the house, the hospitality and everything else that allows you to not talk about the damn painting which offends God’s sensibilities.
Question 2: You have just driven three and a half hours and your client is offering you hard liquor. You still have the return trip to accomplish (not to mention an early morning courtroom date with a Chicago judge the next day) and it is still quite early in the day. What do you say?
  1. “I’ll have what you are having. No wait...make that a double.”
  2. “I’m sorry, but I’m ok for the moment. Plus, I have to drive.”
  3. “Not right now, but if I could have a to-go cup. A little whiskey will definitely help spice up the drive.”
Question 3: Your Partner is finishing up the substantive side of the meeting, he turns to you and asks is there anything else. Your response is?
  1. Compliment your firm’s work, your boss’s tireless drive to get the best result possible and assure the client that this is the best possible result.
  2. “I think you covered everything, boss.”
  3. Reach into your briefcase, handout the prepared materials and begin discussing your client’s newfound dream of timeshare ownership.
There is no wrong answer. Unless something you say gets you fired.