A few years ago, I met a corporate VP who refused to let her tech employees telecommute because she wanted to see them face-to-face in meetings and “give them hugs when they need it.” After a long day of work, she also insisted they waste a few hours drinking with her at a local bar.
Welcome to Cubicle Hell. I never knew anyone who liked the VP’s meetings or receiving those hugs. Let’s just say there was a lot of cheering when this pointy-haired boss (h/t Dilbert) was fired.
Ridiculous? Yes, but far more common than most people think.
Unfortunately, there are some people who want those hugs and face time more than they value legal advice. It’s been one of my top priorities as an Internet lawyer to avoid these time-sucking vampires.
Is it possible to really help business clients without meeting them in person?
Yes. For example, my clients start getting help from me as an Internet lawyer through a telephone appointment.
In fact, even during ongoing legal representation I rarely meet with clients face-to-face unless I happen to run into them at an event where I’m a speaker.
In-person meetings seldom make sense because it costs everyone involved time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.
And as a practical matter, with clients based around the world, most Internet legal help involves telephone calls, Skype videoconferencing as-needed, and emails. No need to hop on a plane.
Even for local clients, meetings are infrequent and only when it makes sense to do so. We respect each other’s time and recognize that a face-to-face meeting must be productive or it should not be held at all.
When you’re looking to retain an Internet lawyer, decide in advance whether you want hugs and meetings or legal help. Because there’s someone out there who will be happy to give you hugs…it just won’t be me.