How to Hide Your Inexperience

Don’t.

It’s okay to be inexperienced. It’s not okay to lie about your inexperience. Or fudge. Or avoid the issue. Instead, read Jordan Rushie’s post, Winging It, in which he describes the right way to respond to a client who wants to know how much experience you have, when you don’t have any:

Actually, no. I want to be very up front with you: I have never done any zoning work before. … Given that’s the case, are you absolutely certain you want me to help you with this?

A variation of Jordan’s response is the only appropriate way to talk to a client who wants you to handle something you haven’t done (much) before. It’s tempting to hide your inexperience, especially when it means you might lose a client, but being up front about your inexperience is not only required as a matter of law and ethics, it is the best way to keep a client. No client will appreciate finding out about your inexperience in court, or in a negotiation, or when a document you prepare turns out to be ineffective.

If you are up front, you are more likely to earn the respect of your client, and they are probably more likely to want to hire you after all—on another matter, if not this one.

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  • Sam – great post. At first, I only saw the headline and was scared of what I would read…. :-)

    I would also add, in the event that attorneys are partnering with a more experienced counselor on a client matter, that the attoreny inform the client about it.