Valentine’s Day Edition

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There were so many significant events this week worthy of a Risk Tip theme:  The 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan, the US luge medal (not to mention the women’s curling victory), and, of course, Valentine’s Day.  Then I heard that the legendary Sid Caesar died at the age of 91.  A Risk Tip is a perfect way to pay tribute, I thought; certainly, there is no shortage of Sid Caesar video clips.   But what’s the risk management tie-in?  Caesar was not exactly risk averse– just ask Mel Brooks, whom Caesar purportedly dangled out an 18th-floor window in a fit of rage.  Oh well, Valentine’s Day it is.

New relationships are always fraught with complications, particularly when the holidays roll around.  And woe to the couple who start dating right before Valentine’s Day.  Is it too soon for flowers?  Or is it ever too soon for flowers?  Dinner is probably a safe bet, but what about gifts?  If you’ve been going out all of four weeks, is a gift really necessary?  Or does it send the wrong message?  The right answer depends upon the expectations of your significant (or not-so-significant) other.  While I have a pretty good idea about what my wife of 16 years expects on Valentine’s Day, it’s much harder when you are just getting to know someone.  

Starting a relationship with a new client is sort of like starting a relationship with a new boyfriend or girlfriend.  Does the client expect that a team of partners and associates will work on (and bill time to the matter), or does it anticipate that just one or two lawyers will handle the work?  If the client is having a dispute, does it understand the potential consequences and costs involved should litigation arise?    

It is incumbent upon the lawyer to fully appreciate the client’s expectations.  Make sure you know what the client expects at the outset in terms of fees, the scope of work to be performed, and the potential legal consequences of a course of action.  And if those are expectations are unreasonable, it’s not enough to stay quiet; have a conversation before undertaking the matter.  And once the matter starts, be sure to keep the client informed.  Stay in regular contact so the client is aware, in real time, of the work you are doing.  While your new girlfriend may be pleasantly surprised by a bouquet of roses, don’t expect a new client to respond pleasantly when you surprise them with a six-figure bill. 

Keeping these things in mind is the first step to a long and happy relationship.   Just like the couple in the attached clip.  

Now really, did you think I would show some mushy VD clip instead of a Caesar gem?  And if you don’t like it, take it up with this guy.