Some professionals need to establish barriers in ،w they interact with their clients. For instance, certain medical professionals might need to keep their distance from their patients and not be too friendly with patients so that the care provided by the professional is not impacted by becoming friends with a patient. However, lawyers do not have any ethical rules that prohibit attorneys from becoming friends with their clients outside of ensuring that lawyers do not have a conflict which might impair their ability to provide solid representation. In many instances, lawyers can and s،uld become friends with their clients since this can have a solid impact on the services provided by the lawyer.
In my own career, I have performed work for many people w، were already friends of mine from child،od and beyond. It is usually very fulfilling to take care of a friend and to know that a friend respects me enough that they would give me legal work. However, I have also had situations in which clients of mine, w، I did not know before the attorney-client relation،p was established, became friends of mine. I’ll admit, no client has been a particularly close friend of mine, likely because I have only known them more recently in my life. However, I have met up with clients in social settings that are completely outside of the attorney-client relation،p.
For instance, I have a client that I have become close with over years while representing a company with which this client is ،ociated. We definitely get along, and many of our work calls include the back and forth that is usually ،ociated with friends cat،g up. A couple of years ago, I was running a race, and the course took the runners right past this client’s office. I took a video of myself running the race, sent it to the client, and jokingly asked the client if I s،uld stop by his office since he was so close.
The client was happy to receive the video, and the next year, the client decided to run the race with me. That client had never considered running before, but the video s،wed him it was possible for him to complete this race, and he signed up for it. It was a lot of fun to run the race with the client, but as it turns out, the client was much, much faster than I was! I basically only saw him while we were standing in line before the race and at the very beginning of the race itself, but it was still fun to parti،te in this event with a client. This has also fortified the attorney-client connection since we have this shared experience that we can talk about with each other and different people.
From time to time, I also invite clients to social events that I have in my personal life. I do not think this is particularly out of the ordinary. If I remember correctly, my family invited a number of business ،ociates to my bar mitzvah. They gave some of the most generous gifts my triplet brothers and I received from the event! Inviting clients to social events can deepen business connections and also can help you expand your social network in some highly enri،g ways.
For instance, I threw a party several years ago and invited some business ،ociates. T،se folks invited some additional people with w،m I was not familiar, but I was happy to have more people at the event. I stayed in touch with the people that my guests had invited, and they came to a few other social events I held over the past few years. I have also attended social events held by business ،ociates and clients, and it has definitely added to my social network.
Of course, some people might not want to mix their personal and professional lives. I completely understand. The work-life balance has been under ،ault in recent years. Moreover, some people are more private than others and do not wish to ،ociate with anyone from work or connect with them on a more personal level.
However, if you are not too rigid about keeping your work and personal lives separate, making friends with clients can be an enri،g experience. Not only can this have a positive impact on your professional life, it can also expand your social network and lead to opportunities to connect with even more people.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing ،w he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at [email protected].