“We must hang together…else we shall assuredly hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin
That was how good old Ben replied to John Hancock at the first Continental Congress when it was about to sign the Declaration of Independence. Hancock’s comment was intended to convey the need for the different American colonies that joined in the signing of the declaration of independence to be united. Franklin’s agreement with the views of Hancock and extended his statement to point out the dire consequences of not remaining united.
That is a motto for how I run my firm, and my various associates and clerks and office managers over the years have heard me say as such. It’s not limited to my office; I always try to embody that mentality. When an individual or company comes to me for counsel, advice or general help, I like to think it’s a result of how I’ve conducted myself outside the office or courtroom.
As thankfully-busy as the New Year has been, I’ve welcomed the referrals and collaborations that made their way to me. It’s about more than just the money — it’s because I put just as much effort into establishing trust within an often cynical industry.
A lawyer I’ve known for more than a decade reached out to me via LinkedIn a week ago and asked me to step in on tax and securities matters. We’ve lost touch since we initially met over drinks at a networking event in the city, which was long ago to have been before kids, for both of us, I believe. When we met he was at a large law firm, and I’m sure he’s encountered plenty of other qualified principals over the years. He could have contacted anyone and now that he runs a boutique firm, he thought of my firm when he needed tax and securities work done. I certainly remembered this gentleman as just that — a gentleman. And one that I would have liked to work with. I have to assume without ego that he remembered me in kind. I didn’t have to deliberate.
“Send me what you have and I’ll get started,” I responded.
He doesn’t handle tax and securities work, and I do. Everything in business — and in most cases, my life — has been based on faith and reputation. In this case, it was a reputation and impression that goes back to the days of flip phones.
Another such situation is that a colleague handles the labor and employment side of the matter, and became involved in the buy-out of a company. He called me in. I am happy to be the tax and securities guy on a deal. On the equity grant and the corporate matters, we collaborate. I defer to him on the employment matters; he defers to me on the tax matters. I don’t box him out and don’t take the lead without the green-light, or when negotiating with the big monster law firm since this is the second massive transaction I’ve worked on, and never without speaking to him first. He plays the cool, collected wise grey hair; I play the aggressive New Yorker. It’s his client and their matter — we are hired to do the work to the best of our ability and help reposition the client in the strongest light. And we do it together.
To try to sweep the client off their feet would be bad for business and bad for for reputation.
I know peers who’ve done it and while I’ll have a drink with them, I wouldn’t bring them into any matter with which I’m involved. I’m protective of my clients, and where others merely see dollar signs, I only see the relationship and the trust we’ve formed.
Even when a loss is inevitable, we’ve been retained because we’ll fall with style.
Whether clients are growing or going under, I’m proud that my firm has established itself on being one they can hang with.