How to Be a Better Lawyer: The Human Connection with Neal Goldstein

On paper, most people might think that they want the most efficient lawyer. But the truth is, when someone needs legal help, they’re not looking for the lawyer with the most successful cases. They want the lawyer who cares about them — someone really in their corner. Put yourself in their shoes. Who would you rather work with: a machine, or someone you know, like, and trust? Be the person who calls them back, who assures them that everything will be alright. Share a piece of your story, build a human connection, and create an authentic relationship.

In this episode, Neal Goldstein joins us to talk about the importance of building a human connection with clients. He also shares how his challenging childhood shaped his values and the story of how he became a personal injury lawyer. Neal emphasizes that personal connections and humanizing your relationship are key to fostering a repeat client base.

If you want to know how to create a human connection with clients, this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode

  1. Discover the power of sharing a piece of your story with people.
  2. Learn the value you create when you forge a human connection with the people you meet — not just your clients.
  3. Find out the key reasons clients leave lawyers.


Episode Highlights

Neal’s Story

  • Neal grew up in the 1960s and 1970s in Rockaway, Queens County. His mother had MS that continued to progress.
  • He has two brothers, one of whom passed away and one with whom he rarely contacts. Their emotionally abusive father left them when he was 12.
  • He dropped out of high school, thinking it was his only shot at having a successful day. 
  • He found a human connection with someone that pushed him to return to school and realize he was good at it. He went to college during the day and law school at night.
  • After graduating from law school, he started working in a law firm. Early in his career, he was offered a limited partnership, which eventually turned into a full partnership.

Navigating a Rough Childhood

  • It’s difficult to parent the way you want when you’re going through your own hell. 
  • Neal's relationship with his mother was extremely limited. He was doing things you never want your child to do as a teenager.
  • After dropping out of high school, he visited the Jewish Community Center, where he attended kindergarten. 
  • There, he met a young guy with whom he formed his first adult relationship. He didn't judge him for not being in school but encouraged him to do teen programming.
  • He made some friends along the way and eventually took the chance to go back to school.

Sharing Your Story and Building Relationships

Moshe: "You have this opportunity every single day when somebody comes into your office, you can either look at them as potential business, or you can look at them as a human being going through something. And if you can touch into the human side of it in understanding just a little aspect of what they might be going through, you approach how you serve them and how you talk to them in a completely different way."

  • Before writing his book, Neal felt the need to share part of his story with clients involving youngsters.

Neal: “Life is out there to capture. You just have to want to do it, and it's not easy, but you can.”

  • Sharing a part of your story is a strategy for forging a human connection with people you meet.
  • You don't have to share your entire story. Sharing just a little piece of your story changes how people look at you.

Achieving a Level of Success Early on in Your Legal Career

  • You have to get a better understanding of yourself and who you are to start the journey of bringing new clients in.
  • It’s vital to have successful relationships with clients who want to come to you.

Neal: “People want to do business with people they like.”

  • Invest your time and money in building your soft and interpersonal relationship skills.
  • Digital is essential, but it's not the end-all-be-all. You‘ll have to meet your clients face-to-face to forge a real human connection with them.
  • Find out what you like to do and connect with people with the same interests. By really liking what you're doing, it will ultimately get you business.

Neal: “At some point, you have to stop selling and just be yourself.”

Getting Clients as an Established Law Firm

  • Many of their clients at Goldstein and Bashner are repeat clients or referrals.

Neal: “Every lawyer will tell you, the best, quality clients are repeat clients, clients that are referred by past clients, or clients from other lawyers.”

  • To get clients from other lawyers, you first have to have genuine relationships with other lawyers. Tune in to the full episode to hear an example!
  • Checking in with people demonstrates respect, trust, and comfort. It shows that you care about the other person as a person, not just for their business.
  • People will see if what you're doing is not in your soul. You'll only get business when people see that you genuinely have passion for the philanthropy that you're in.

Neal: “The truth is, just create more relationships, and you'll find more clients. Forget it—drop the word 'clients' for a moment.”

  • It’s a good practice to take time to respond to people, especially digitally.

Becoming a Lawyer

  • His middle brother was already out of the house, while his oldest brother was sent away to a religious school when Neal was young.
  • He had to do things most teenagers don’t need to do, like going to the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid offices.
  • Being an advocate for her mother stayed inside of him. It’s where being a personal injury lawyer evolved from.
  • At law school, nobody wanted to be a personal injury lawyer. Neal knew somewhere that it was something he wanted to do.

Neal: “What is it about listing settlements and verdicts? Who is that impressing?”

  • Listing verdicts and settlements on your law firm's website is not for the purpose of getting clients. It's not what clients are looking at.

Why Clients Leave Lawyers

  • Not having good communication is the number one reason clients leave lawyers. 
  • Some clients don’t speak to their lawyers or have never met their lawyers directly.
  • Neal’s video on why your lawyer doesn’t call you back is his YouTube video with the highest views. It says something.
  • Clients switch lawyers because of two reasons: the lawyer doesn't call them back, or they speak down to their clients. They lack a human connection.

Neal’s Parting Piece of Advice

  • Set aside a budget to go out with people. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Share a piece of your story. It's the key to getting raving fans as clients that will come back to you repeatedly.
  • Listen to the full episode to hear Moshe’s piece of his story!

About Neal

Neal Goldstein, lawyer and owner of Goldstein and Bashner in NY for over thirty years and now the best-selling author of "Who's in the Waiting Room," has come a long way in his journey from his childhood and teenage years where he was living with a mom who had MS and an abusive father culminating in his dropping out of high school.

Connect with Neal on Goldstein and Bashner’s website and his personal website.

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