Be a Good Client: A Video Game Analogy on Winning Your Legal Battles

It’s 2015: I’m guessing most of us have played or seen played a shoot-em-up video game, right? (They’re awful fun.) Well, here’s some wisdom from the virtual trenches on how to be a good client and thus how to help your legal soldier help you win your case!

  1. Be honest. You know what an avatar is – the little computerized dude on the screen that represents you in the video game? Well think of your lawyer as your video game avatar in a world of your making. Tell him where the bad guys and other secret surprises are lurking so he’s not surprised when they pop around a corner. Remember, lying to your trooper only creates mistrust.
  2. Follow directions and be responsive. Your avatar soldier provides you with all sorts of skills and intel. He/ she can do all the things and provides all the know-how that you wish you yourself had! (Wouldn’t that be great if everybody had the super skills their video game avatars have?) Well, if your lawyer soldier advises to you do or say something or needs something from you, then for heaven’s sake, listen and comply. Radio silence and delayed communications are also terrible. You don’t want to leave your avatar stranded and dumb-founded mid-battlefield wondering what’s up and where you are – that’s how you quickly lose the game!
  3. Discuss your budget upfront and pay your bills on time. Imagine your avatar surrounded by enemy soldiers in the virtual battle. They’re shooting at him/ her with all sorts of lasers and missiles. Your lawyer pulls out the fancy superblaster and click-click – nothing! You forgot to arm your soldier! Remember, your lawyer is supposed to be paid for every minute of billable attorney work plus related expenses. Think of the money you pay him/ her as virtual bullets. You don’t want your lawyer to run-out of ammo in the middle of battle. Tell your lawyer from the start what kind of financial ammunition you bring to the table so that he/ she can form the proper strategy for your particular budget.
  4. Be polite. Have you ever seen a kid throw across the room the fancy, expensive remote control of the video game after a painful mid-game mistake or a “Game Over” defeat? Don’t blame your lawyer for your legal difficulties. He/ she is the one trying to get you out of the jam you’re in. Yelling, cursing, flaking, arguing, interrupting, bossing around, or otherwise misdirecting blame and frustration at a lawyer are common mistakes of bad clients, and such behavior will ruin your attorney-client relationship. You can always hit reset on the game and start over with a new lawyer. But better still, pick your avatar well from the outset: check out your lawyer-soldier’s levels of Power, Ethics, Experience, and Value. Once you pick your avatar, give the game your A-1 effort. Misguided rudeness is an easy mistake but a costly one, so don’t do it.
  5. Stay emotionally stable. The best gamers stay mellow no matter what’s happening on the virtual battlefield. They’re cool in crisis, and they’re the ones who compete at the highest levels. Take a lesson from them. If you need emotional support or if you just need to cry, scream, and rip phone books in half, your lawyer soldier is not the one for the job. That’s what friends, family, therapists, and the punching bag at the gym are for.

Legal crises can test you. Learn from the best gamers. Find a comfortable sofa, get your drinks and snacks all lined up, and make sure you’re well slept. Strap on your game headset, talk calmly and intelligently with your lawyer soldier, agree on your strategy, help acquire the best position, keep your ammo supply high, line up your sights, and pull the trigger only when your target is locked-on. That’s how you’ll rack up the points and get your name up on the winner’s board! Good gaming!

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