I recently had a personal injury lawyer refer a client to me for estate planning. When I found out about the referral, I emailed the lawyer and thanked him and went about my day. He, in turn, responded to me by copying a portion of an email he had sent to the person who had sought the referral: “I refer folks to Jon McCarty. Knowledgeable, experienced and a nice guy.”
I was immediately struck by his comment. To start with, he didn’t have to refer the prospective client to me in the first place and I was appreciative of his trust in me as a competent and capable estate planning attorney. More than that, however, I was intrigued by his description of me as a “nice guy.” I’m not one hundred percent sure what he meant by this, but it did cause me to think about what this means to me and, hopefully, my clients, and that is what I want to share with you. I would also add that while the lawyer was referring to me personally, he could easily have been describing my law partner, Keith Tokerud, as well, because we share the same philosophy in our practice.
I’ll try to explain what I mean by this. We strive to be knowledgeable and experienced in our practice, there is no doubt. Our clients expect and deserve this. But we also strive to be nice guys—to go above and beyond for our clients. Why? For Keith and me, to answer that question we need only ask ourselves why it is that we do what we do. Is it because we want to be more knowledgeable and more experienced than other estate planning lawyers? If it were all about us, we might be tempted to answer “yes” to such a question. But that is not our purpose or our cause; it is not why we do what we do. There is much more to it than that. We enjoy working with people. We desire to develop strong relationships with clients. We take a genuine interest in their lives, goals and opportunities, as well as their fears, issues and concerns. We work with our clients and their families in a helpful, productive manner to establish an estate plan that is well thought out and meets their unique needs and desires, and we have systems in place that we have developed to help ensure that the plan works as envisioned. And this has not gone unnoticed by our clients and the people who refer them to us. In the end, I would venture to state that a great many people come to Keith and me to assist them with their planning not just because of what we do, but rather, because of why we do it and the way we do it. It is a very satisfying experience for both us and our clients.