My livelihood relies on my ability to give clients the very best advice. Yet it's true that some of the most valuable advice I've received in my life has been freely given (and all the more gratefully received!)

This is one of the reasons why I'm always happy to give the first phone-call for free. Clients instruct me when their businesses are at their most vulnerable, so clock-watching is no way to begin a strong and lasting relationship based on mutual trust.

After finding out that Monday was National Give Something Away Day, I thought I would share the 3 best pieces of advice I've ever received, and how these nuggets of wisdom have impacted my career and my life as a whole.

Hopefully they will help you too!

In all negotiations, leave something for the other party.

When I was a fresh-faced trainee, a client who has held directorship and vice-chairman roles in significant companies told me this. It is a simple formula that I have never forgotten. I remember the day it was gifted to me (and I do consider it a gift). The simplicity of this comment and its relevance to everything we do in life meant that it became one of those rare ‘eureka’ moments.

This piece of advice has become a golden rule that I implement in all my negotiations, and frequently pass the same advice on to my clients. Wherever I have put it into practice, the compromise has stood the test of time.

Seek out and ask the right opening question. From that will come all answers.

Carbon's CEO Michael Burne gave me this advice, which is applicable to all-important conversations. Michael shared this during one of our regular conversations about what clients want from lawyers (rather than the other way around).  

It may sound a bit profound, like something from a fortune cookie, but it is spot on. It reminds me to focus my attention on the client's point of view, rather than my own perspective. Instead of making statements that may contain assumptions, I choose an opening question and allow the conversation to happen naturally. From this first question, a discussion about what really matters will flow. 

You are paid for your value and not for your time.

This is accredited to American entrepreneur, Jim Rohn. I'm not ashamed to say I love inspirational quotes, and this is one of my favourites. I implement it in everything that I do for my clients. 

A stereotypical, yet often fair, criticism of lawyers is that they are interested in prolonging every case to secure more money in their own pocket, rather than creating the fastest, most sustainable outcome for their clients. That benefits no one but the lawyer, and it’s simply wrong. If we strive for value and not time, the answer is to give great advice that will ensure lasting results. The longevity should be the advice not the opportunity for billing!

Thank you for reading. Please let me know your own favourite pieces of advice. By sharing knowledge with each other, we can all become better at what we do and pass this value onto our clients.