Years ago I got off the phone with a friend who said she wanted to be married. I was doubtful. Being married is easy; it can happen in weeks. Just go to the right bar. I was sure my friend wanted to be married to someone in particular or at least to a certain kind of person.
I groused about this a bit – mostly because I was at the age where many of my women friends wanted husbands. Then someone explained that when a person wants to marry, he or she deeply understands that very good is good enough. No one can satisfy all your needs. When someone wants to marry, a good match can be had with someone you love, with whom you have sufficient common interests and who shares most of your values.
When clients choose lawyers, they likewise search for skill sets (common interests) and common values.
On the skills side, all clients want quality work, but with complicated transactions or litigations truly superb work is extremely time consuming and therefore expensive. It is an unusual client that needs, and is willing and able to pay for, every contingency addressed. Assuming a client wants quality work, there are two kinds of lawyers – those that do very good work and those that do impeccable work. Generally, very good is good enough.
However, there is a caveat. Regardless of whether someone’s technical legal work would get an A or a B plus, a lawyer should never offer anything short of impeccable personal service. Return phone calls promptly, even if it is to say you cannot speak that day; explain why you are doing or not doing certain things and generally convey an attitude towards open communication.
The values issue is more complicated, but suffice it to say that lawyers who like to drive the hardest possible bargains or win litigations with tactics as opposed to facts or law, work best with like-minded clients, while lawyers who generally leave something on the table or litigate to solutions short of destruction will work best with gentler sorts.