Client Management For Nice People: Jaw-dropping client experiences (and how they changed us.)

Navigating the Legal Landscape: Insights on Human Nature and Being a Professional with Jeremy Streten

Navigating the Legal Landscape: Insights on Human Nature and Being a Professional with Jeremy Streten

This article was based on episode #35: Jeremy Streten’s miss-communication story that left us & Our Beloved Host, Morgan Friedman, with a bunch of great client-management lessons. Please watch the complete episode here!

 

“…if you ask questions, you find out the answers. You solve the problems. You actually look more stupid if you don’t ask the questions because there’s something that you could do to solve it..” – Jeremy Streten

 

In the complex world of law and professional services, success often hinges on a delicate interplay of human nature, expertise, and decision-making. Whether you’re a lawyer, consultant, or any other type of professional, understanding the nuances of navigating the legal landscape is crucial. 

Jeremy Streten’s client horror story is something that might sound bizarre but is actually common in today’s landscape, but one thing’s for sure – this experience will provide a unique perspective on how to thrive in an ever-evolving professional landscape. 

So, without further ado, let’s summarize what happened!

The whole thing started when Jeremy’s client got into a partnership with another individual, entered a company, and proceeded to get approval to build a high-rise 30-story building in Australia. A quick note to avoid any confusion – Jeremy’s client wanted the approval and sell off the development to another company. Meanwhile, the other guy fully expected that they would work on the building together.

According to Jeremy, “…they both made the assumption that the other knew what the other one wanted to do, and they never actually talked through what the end goal was. My guy just assumed that they would just get the approval and package it all up and sell it off to a developer.”

That’s basically the gist, really, but there’s some backstory here that you should definitely know about.

Before all this started, Jeremy’s client had called him frantically on Christmas Eve because he was served with a court summons. You see, Jeremy’s client and his partner had decided, on a whim, to kick out a director from the company without following proper guidelines – and it’s finally come to bite them in the ass in the form of a court summons.

Jeremy’s client had everything to lose, so he fought hard to help him out despite lack of monetary support. His client’s partner, though, did not feel the same way and wanted to push through on constructing the building himself – ugh pride!

In the end, Jeremy’s client decided to just hand the whole company to the other guy, and within a month, the whole thing was down the shoot and they had lost everything, including all the other clients’ money. According to Jeremy, “Over time, companies went to liquidation, people went bankrupt. There was all marathons. And it was all because they didn’t have a conversation at the beginning.”

 

The Power of Seeking Advice: Overcoming Pride and Embracing Knowledge

Since time immemorial, the power of seeking advice cannot be overstated. It is a crucial aspect of success, allowing professionals to overcome challenges, make informed decisions, and navigate complex legal landscapes. Jeremy Streten, a seasoned legal professional specializing in property development in Australia, emphasizes the transformative impact of seeking advice in his insightful conversations.

Through this story, Jeremy highlights the importance of recognizing one’s limitations and embracing the knowledge and expertise of others. He shares a compelling story of a client who found themselves entangled in a dispute within their business partnership. The client, armed with the dangerous knowledge of being able to remove a director through majority voting, decided to take matters into their own hands without seeking proper advice. Jeremy explains, “They didn’t get advice about doing it properly. They just went… It was a dangerous knowledge to possess.”

This lack of guidance led to dire consequences for the client, as their procedural missteps resulted in a court summons and a subsequent loss in court, as mentioned at the start of this article. Jeremy recalls the pivotal moment when the judge likened the situation to a “bus hurling off a cliff at a million miles an hour with both directors trying to grab a hold of the wheel.” The judge emphasized the need for resolution and urged the parties to find a common ground.

 

Letting the House Burn Down and Knowing When to Act

Reflecting on this experience, pride always seems to have a role in hindering effective decision-making. He acknowledges, “Sometimes as a professional, you need to let the house burn down.” In certain situations, where pride and ego cloud judgment, allowing the situation to reach its breaking point becomes the only way for people to truly learn and reassess their approach. Thus, it’s important to recognize when further negotiation is futile and when to be honest with clients about the limitations of the situation.

 

Trust and Honesty as the Foundation

Moreover, building long-term relationships with clients is highlighted, where trust and open communication form the foundation. He advocates for professionals to go beyond the traditional lawyer-client relationship and become trusted advisors and friends. “I have lifelong relationships with my clients… I go to their weddings, their birthday parties. I’m a friend as well as an advisor,” he shares.

The power of seeking advice lies not only in the expertise gained but also in the opportunity to save face and avoid detrimental mistakes. By humbly admitting areas of uncertainty and seeking guidance, professionals can establish stronger relationships with clients and provide them with the support they need.

 

Balancing Confidence and Humility: Admitting What You Don’t Know and Seeking Answers

Confidence and humility may seem like contrasting qualities, but in the world of professional services, they go hand in hand. 

We should recognize, though, that no professional has all the answers. Jeremy shares a valuable lesson he learned early in his career when a client approached him with a complex legal matter. The client expected Jeremy to have an immediate solution, but Jeremy had the humility to admit that he didn’t have all the answers at that moment. He recalls, “I said, ‘I don’t know the answer, but I will find out for you.’ And I think that built more respect and trust with that client.”

This experience taught Jeremy the value of honesty and the power of seeking answers. Admitting what you don’t know is not a sign of weakness but rather a display of integrity and a commitment to finding the best possible solution. Jeremy states, “If you ask questions, you find out the answers. You solve the problems. You actually look more stupid if you don’t ask the questions because there’s something you could do to solve it.”

Seeking answers is not limited to clients’ inquiries; it extends to continuous learning and professional development. Professionals must have a thirst for knowledge and be open to new ideas and perspectives. Seeking answers is an ongoing process: “Know enough so that you feel comfortable that you have a base knowledge, and then get advice from people further if that’s what you want to get.”

Just as important, learn to recognize when further assistance is needed. Going back to Jeremy’s original story where a client’s pride and refusal to seek advice led to a disastrous outcome,this cautionary tale serves as a reminder that pride should never hinder the willingness to seek guidance and expertise.

 

The Role of Dialogue and Resolution in the Legal Profession

Principles can be a driving force behind legal disputes, but Jeremy never fails to caution against letting clients hinder the path to resolution. When individuals become fixated on their principles, they may lose sight of the larger objective: finding a resolution that benefits all parties involved.

Encouraging open dialogue is essential in the legal profession. This story highlights the importance of having conversations to gain a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. Likewise, by acknowledging one’s limitations and engaging in open dialogue, lawyers can foster an environment of trust and collaboration with their clients.

Seeking resolution should be the ultimate goal in any legal matter. Jeremy shares a story where a client insisted on pursuing a case based on principles alone. He recounts, “Whenever I have a client… who says, ‘It’s the principle of the thing,’ and they stand their hand down on the table, I always tell that story about what the ethics lecturer said… and they always kind of look at you sheepishly and go, ‘Okay. Yeah, you’re right.’ And you come to a resolution.” This anecdote underscores the importance of guiding clients towards resolution rather than allowing them to become entangled in costly and lengthy legal battles.

Finding resolution often requires a balanced approach. He states, “In any dispute… a judge will always think to themselves that you’ve got your story, the other side’s got their story, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.” Recognizing that the truth lies between opposing perspectives allows legal professionals to navigate the complexities of a case with a commitment to fair and equitable outcomes.

The power of seeking advice and expertise to facilitate resolution is always essential. Thus, professionals to embrace the role of trusted advisors, admitting that they don’t have all the answers and are willing to seek guidance when needed. Seeking advice not only demonstrates humility but also opens doors to new perspectives and potential solutions.

 

This article was based on episode #35: Jeremy Streten’s Story, please watch the complete episode here!