Silent Stupidity

Fools believe silence is a void needing to be filled; the wise understand there’s no such thing as silenceMichael J. Sullivan, Age of Myth

By Murray Gottheil | May 30, 2023

Client: Why do I want to pay for two lawyers to be in this meeting?

Acceptable answers:

  1. You don’t. My Associate is here for his education at my cost; or
  2. By including my Associate in the meeting, she is going to be able to do a lot of the work going forward at a much lower cost than if I did everything myself; or
  3. You need my Partner’s expertise and you need my input as well, based on my knowledge of you, your company, and the history of the problem; or
  4. You need the expertise of both of us to solve this problem.

Unacceptable answers:

  1. My Partner is the best person to handle this. You don’t actually need me here at all. I am really just here because I want to be sure that everyone knows that you are my client and I should continue to get the client originating credits. Also, I need the billable hours; or
  2. I need someone to take notes at $450.00 per hour; or
  3. My Associate needs to learn how to handle a meeting like this, and you should pay for it; or
  4. Consider yourself lucky. We are so overspecialized that it is a rare occurrence when we can have a meeting with only two lawyers.

You might think that no lawyer is stupid enough to provide one of the ‘unacceptable answers,” and you may be correct, at least as far as saying it out loud is concerned. But how often do lawyers remain silent about why they have involved many lawyers in a meeting, leaving the client to fill the silence with their own explanation? And how many clients, left to figure out the answer themselves, are going to give the lawyer the benefit of the doubt?

When it comes to legal fees, communication is everything, folks!

Murray is a happily retired lawyer who lives in the country, drives a pick-up truck, writes, teaches and mentors. You can reach him at [email protected] or see what he is up to at


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