“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.” –Matt. 7:12, NASB
The Bible verse quoted above forms the basis for what we call the “Golden Rule.” Another way of wording it: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Considering how the legal profession has been stigmatized with stereotypes of unscrupulous lawyers who lie, cheat and subvert justice, I can’t think of any other profession where keeping the Golden Rule matters more than in the practice of law—especially when it comes to running a law firm. But what does the Golden Rule look like in context? How do we apply it to our marketing techniques? In how we recruit new talent? In how we manage our employees?
Adopt Respectful Marketing Practices
The goal of marketing is awareness—to keep your law firm top-of-mind with people who need your services. However, if you bombard the public with repetitive messaging or ignore do-not-call lists, what message are you really sending about your law firm? You’re basically confirming what many people believe—that lawyers will do anything, regardless of scruples, to achieve their goals. Keep your marketing respectful and within the confines of reasonable contact. Make reminder calls to help new leads remember their appointment, but don’t remind them three times a day for the whole week before their appointment.
Honorable Recruiting Practices
Between law firms, a healthy dose of competition is to be expected. But choosing to hamstring your competition by enticing their top lawyer to jump ship when you don’t really need her—that certainly qualifies as something you wouldn’t want done to you. Additionally, making empty promises to potential partners and employees also reinforces the notion of “no scruples.” Profitability is important, but not at the expense of your good name.
Managing Your Team
Your employees represent your law firm to your clients, and without their reliable services, you couldn’t do your work effectively. When you treat them fairly and with respect, you win their loyalty, which in turn reflects on how they treat your clients. If you create a work environment that is negative and hostile, if you fail to keep promises, or if you speak or act abusively, you risk losing that loyalty—not to mention it’s obviously not how you’d want to be treated. Open communication and dealing fairly with your team not only is the right thing to do—it also yields its own rewards.
The beauty of the Golden Rule is its simplicity. Keeping it begins with a simple question: Would I want this thing done to me? There may be faster ways to boost profits and win cases—and some lawyers will indeed stoop to low levels to get those things—but the Golden Rule reminds us that the ends doesn’t justify the means. What we do is not as important as how we do it. Treating others as we would be treated may sometimes mean lower profits or slower growth—but it is growth that will stand the test of time.