Lawyers and legal professionals are regularly invited to charity events by their clients. These events support charities about which your client cares. Often your client is on the Board. Sometimes your client, individually or as a business, is being honored.
As professionals with limited time and money, lawyers should evaluate each invitation, at the least, in terms of the business opportunity it presents. Of course lawyers should not automatically accept every invitation from their clients. However, I know too many lawyers who reject all client charity invitations without thought or consideration. You can be sure your client has not sent the invitation to everyone. Since you were selected as someone who might attend, the invitation deserves at least a note, e-mail or a phone call. Assuming the event is not one you would otherwise attend (those are easy), how do you decide when to suit us and show up?
There are important questions to consider as you make up your mind about whether to attend any particular client’s event. First, has the client given you significant business? Just last week I heard about a small law firm that did not buy a table at a charity event where a client’s family was being honored. The client had paid over $1 million in legal fees during the last year. The table would have cost $5,000. (Not kidding and enough said. After hearing that story, I decided to write this blog.)
If your client has sent a moderate amount of business, you should consider going solo. You may call and ask to be seated with particular people or particular sorts of people, like non-competitors in similar industries to your client.
One other major factor to consider is how close to your client’s heart is the particular charity. I know someone who has a spouse with a serious chronic disease. Each year he raises significant money to fight and try to find a cure for his wife’s disease by selling tables for the annual fundraiser. He notices who helps, as would any of us.
Attending an event where your client or someone close to your client is either the focus or receives personal benefit creates good will. You can best use that good will when your attendance is palpable. Mingle well, network well, meet the family and make it clear you care.
Whether to attend a client’s charity event should be a conscious, thought-out decision. You may legitimately not attend any particular event, and it probably makes no sense to attend them all. However, in order to take charge of your career, don’t stay away by default. Make a decision. Whatever you do will be noticed.