I once met with a Client – an entrepreneur in the business of distribution of electronic components. It was our first contact, the first meeting, and the Client did not know our law firm or its full offer before.
He had a tight schedule on that day, and the matter with which he came was very urgent. It was necessary to prepare an application for an individual tax law interpretation (tax ruling) as soon as possible. The outcome of the interpretation was to determine the fate of the transaction that the Client was planning to carry out in the near future, so the thing was very important to him. Therefore, there was no time at the moment to present the law firm and its other practices and services that we provide. Straight away, we started to discuss what exactly the issue to be addressed is, when I could handle it and what the cost of such a service would be. I decided to postpone the presentation of the law firm until later, when a more favourable opportunity arises, maybe after the end of this first assignment… My plan seemed reasonable to me, all the more so because after getting to know the details of the case, I was of the view that I could obtain the interpretation for the Client without any major problems.
After the initial arrangements concerning the assignment, there came, as it turned out, the most difficult moment – negotiation of the price. The service concerned was a standard one, so the quotation I gave was also a standard one: more or less the same as a quote the Client would probably get in most law firms. However, the Client’s first reaction was a mixture of disbelief and dismay. ‘All right’, I said – ‘Although our services are worth the price I proposed, I am convinced that you will be interested also in other legal services we offer, which I will present to you at the earliest opportunity, and I am willing to give you a discount on this assignment in hope of good cooperation in the future’. On top of disbelief and dismay, he was now outraged: ‘What good cooperation?! I am an honest businessman and do not need cooperation with lawyers! I have been running the company for fifteen years and I assure you this is my first and last contact with a lawyer! But all right, write this application! And that’s it!’
Twelve years have passed….
Today, my Client’s company works on a regular basis with our law firm and its other practices: tax, real estate, transactional, litigation, and from time to time with the M&A practice. And the Client is still an honest businessman, but on a slightly larger scale.