The restaurant was new to me and so was the food and drink: Russian dumplings, escargot, and horseradish-infused vodka helped us law students ask two practicing attorneys the burning questions new students ponder but are rarely afforded the chance to ask. We laughed over funny stories of law school, one round of drinks turned in to three, and the questions continued. At the end of the night, one of the attorneys whipped out the ‘company credit card,’ clutched neatly in his fingers below a monogramed French cuff, and charged the entire bill to his big, downtown law firm. He made a show of it.
That is what it was – a show. But I was not a client or a vendor or anyone needing to be impressed. We were students. Nonetheless, our meals and our drinks were paid for by the big law firm.
Or, more accurately, our meals and drinks were paid for by the big law firm’s clients.
Honestly, I was not impressed. I was appalled. It seemed extravagant.
Of course, when a law firm rolls out the red carpet for a client (or for a group of hungry students) it may seem impressive. Somewhere between the entrée and the dessert you may even feel as though you were the firm’s most important client – worthy of a free meal ticket and engaging conversation. Perhaps you are. Or, perhaps the attorney needs to blow their expenditure budget for the month. Either way, when the check comes the partner or associate attorney will grab the tab, make a show of paying for your lunch, and then skip off to the office to add it to your bill for legal services. Oh, maybe not by line item, but the two hours you spent discussing your case over oysters will certainly cost more than the lunch did.
It is all included in the hourly rate; all a part of the budget.
I do not make room in my budget for taking clients out or spending money on free food, drinks, or desserts. Why?
Because at the end of the day it is your money I am spending to pretend I am giving you something for free. To buy you lunch, I must charge you more for my work, more for my time, and more to give you what you really want: A solution to your legal questions or needs.
So, at Meyer Law PLLC, I will not buy you lunch. But I will give you approachable, personal, and affordable legal services, dedicated to you and your business – not to impressing you with free food.