Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ask a Lawyer to Talk

About seventeen years ago, when I was an articling student, a senior lawyer asked me to go with him to a case management conference involving a large insurance claim. The courtroom was full of senior litigation lawyers representing at least a dozen or so different parties. I recognized the names of several of the lawyers as leading counsel in Vancouver. Each had something to say. I was very impressed by all of this, although I admit that I was not sure if anything had been accomplished. After the case management conference, the senior lawyer who brought me said, “Stan, I hope you have learned something valuable today.” I asked “What’s that?” to which he replied, “Lawyers love to hear themselves talk.”

It was a good quip, and—of course—true. But, I don’t think that it is always bad.

I enjoy speaking to various groups about estate planning or estate litigation. When I am asked to speak to a group, I am always flattered by the request. I don’t charge speaking fees (although I do ask for reimbursement of my expenses for travel and accommodation if it is outside of the Okanagan Valley). Sometimes, I have to turn down a speaking invitation because I have something else on my schedule, but I try to accept whenever I can. I enjoy it, and speaking is good marketing. In the last six or seven months, I have had the privilege of speaking to such different groups as Advocis financial planners, Sterling Mutual Ltd. clients, the Victoria Wills and Trusts Subsection of the Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch, and a singles group.

I have also often asked busy, leading lawyers to speak to the Okanagan Wills and Trusts subsection, or the Kelowna Estate Planning Society. Both organizations cover expenses, but do not pay speaking fees. In my experience the vast majority of lawyers that I have approached have been willing to take time away from their practices and families to travel to Kelowna to speak at one of our functions.

I bet every city and town in Canada and the United States has lawyers who are able and willing to talk to groups of people about their practice areas. If you are involved with a group that is interested in learning more about estate planning, or about any area of law, go ahead and ask a lawyer to talk to your group. Most will accept if the topic is within their areas of practice, and their schedules permit. Remember, lawyers love to hear themselves talk.

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