So my firm has a unique culture, as do all businesses. But the difference at my firm is that we have captured the essence of our firm in 21 fundamentals we call The JW Way ( These are the foundation of our business and inform how we operate from how we deal with clients to who we hire, whether attorneys or staff.

Today I am focusing on one fundamental: Treat clients’ money as if it were your own. Yes, I know this makes sense, but doing it is not always the obvious choice. The easiest example of this in my world involves litigation. A partner of mine is known to say: We can ride to court in a Honda or a Cadillac. In some situations a client may only be able to afford the Honda. Of course this means having difficult conversation at the front end to determine what your client or customer can afford and how that relates to what they want to do.

If that is the case, you then have to figure out whether it is possible to provide outstanding legal advice and service that will meet your client’s expectations going to court in the Honda. If not, or if a potential client is looking for a luxury ride they cannot afford, the best thing I can do is decline the representation because odds are I cannot realistically meet their expectations.

For me, when a client is on a litigation budget, that means thinking about overall costs for a representation and what can be done to try and work within a given client’s budget or financial limitations. For example, it could mean taking a close look at larger litigation expenses such as depositions and only taking some, but not all possible, depositions. Or, on smaller expenses it may mean sending a demand by snail mail and email, but not having it hand delivered or served.

I am sure there are ways in your business to shave both smaller and larger amounts from what you are doing for your clients or customers on a specific deal or project. Or maybe it is looking at administrative expense and overhead in your business. Maybe there is a bigger picture change you can make that will result in savings you can pass on.

The fact is that by treating our clients’ money as if it were our own, as well as following the other fundamentals of The JW Way for a number of years, it has lead my firm to great overall business decisions and great hiring decisions regarding people who fit into our culture, as well great and continuing success. This in turn has resulted in my firm being able to meet and exceed the goals of our clients and avoid sending invoices that provide sticker shock; Your client doesn’t want the invoice for the Cadillac if you discussed the Honda.