My Dearest Entrepreneur Client
From the beginning of this academic year, two teams in the clinic started working with small business clients instead of the housing related clients. Luckily, our team got a client who we can call an entrepreneur.
Before this clinic, I worked with immigrants as my clients. Most of them need an interpreter to communicate in the United States and they barely have any idea regarding the American law. Facing those clients, attorneys tend to play a controlling role in their cases, as the traditional “attorney-centered approach,” instead of the “client-centered approach.” I remember one time when I spent 20 minutes explaining every possible option to my client through an interpreter. However, the only answer I got was: “You are the attorney. I will do whatever you recommend.” I doubt the same situation will ever happen to an entrepreneurship client.
Usually, entrepreneurs who start small businesses are experts in that field. They are passionate about they do. They are risk takers and idea creators. On the contrary, attorneys are risk averse and sometime, even idea killers. We will recommend having limited liability companies – to limit liability, purchasing insurances – again to limit liability, and putting everything in writing – again, to limit liability. I am learning to balance the risk and cost for the clients, especially when they just started formalizing their business.
In small business, entrepreneurs sever the function of owners, managers, and employees. They make decisions based on both personal interests and business interests. Attorneys need to be aware of those interests. For example, family members may start a small business together. Their family relationship can create an interesting dynamic for the company. Also, a client may insist to keep a business relationship informal for the benefit of their personal relationship. Attorneys have to respect the “common practice” in the clients’ field and situation, and provide as much as protection for the clients at the same time.
It was super rewarding to work for immigrant clients because they usually depend on the attorney so much. For entrepreneurial clients, I feel that we are in this together where we came in with different perspectives and educated each other along the way.