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MyShingle Question of the Week: Where Do You Do Your Meet, Eat & Greet?

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I’m experimenting with a question of the week here at MyShingle – just a short question related to anything of interest to lawyers running a practice or thinking about it from law practice management or tech, recommendations on how to guides or CLE providers to thoughts on why you started a firm or who your ideal client is.  I’ll come up with questions but more importantly, I welcome them from readers.  Anyone who submits a comment will get a link in the post.  So chime in!  Here’s the first question:  What’s your go to place to meet, eat & greet?

The arrival of January means that Restaurant Week — where restaurants offer a fixed rate menu of $20.10 for a three course lunch —  is coming to many cities, including Washington D.C. and Baltimore, right here in my backyard.  Though a $40 lunch for two can break the budget if you indulge on a regular basis, you might consider taking advantage of Restaurant Week to meet an important prospect or treat a colleague who’s referred cases who helped you throughout the year.

But the advent of Restaurant Week got me thinking more generally about where to meet colleagues or prospective clients.  Social media notwithstanding, there’s nothing like face to face get togethers to cement a relationship.  Though I’m not a fan of doing lunch regularly (because of the costs), sometimes a colleague will insist on it, or I’ll need to entertain a client (or prospect) who’s in town.  But getting together for coffee or drinks is a less expensive approach for more casual meetings.

So here’s my question for you:  where do you eat & meet colleagues and clients? What are some of your “go-to” places for (1) lunch and (2) coffee in your city and why?  And what features do you consider key in selecting a place?  And since we’re talking details, what about etiquette – who picks up the tab?

I’ll start the conversation.  Here in D.C., I’m a fan of Old Ebitt Grill or Georgia Brown’s for fancier lunches with clients or biglaw attorneys.  Old Ebitt is a bit cliche for DC, but the food is good and fairly varied, it’s comfortable and has plenty of history, having been around since the 1850’s.  For coffee meetings, I have no aversion to Starbucks though it’s not very original.  Unfortunately,  many of the Starbucks in the vicinity of my office aren’t particularly nice looking or conducive to sitting so I’ve been scoping out alternatives.  Truth be told, I love Busboys and Poets for coffee (as well as breakfast or lunch) quite a bit; unfortunately, its two locations aren’t always convenient.

As for the bill, I always pay – or at least try to – when I’ve issued the invite.  Some of my older male colleagues at large firms insist on picking up the bill regardless, but I do my best to preempt.   When newbie solos invite me out, I try to steer them towards coffee because it’s less expensive.  I typically let them pay and consider it bad form when they don’t.

So – what do you think?  Either post a response on your blog or join the conversation below.

  • I think that many times, probably most times, a convenient location drives the decision. Sometimes that means choosing a place that is not as nice or conducive as you otherwise would want. I am lucky to practice with a downtown office in a large city. I think that in that kind of an environment you usually have choices that are close and fit the bill. In the Chicago Loop I like Tratoria #10 and Rosebud Prime a lot for nicer business meetings, both of which are near my office and most Loop offices.

  • Great question –
    Where do I meet someone I’ve asked out to lunch? Wherever they want to go. I always ask them and we go to the place of their choice. I always pay.
    If I’m going by myself I always pick this crazy fast food middle eastern place here in Raleigh called Greek Fiesta. I’ve been going there for years and I’m totally addicted.

  • I’ve found places like Buffalo Wild Wings or a sushi bar are much better than the typical white-tablecloth restaurant.
    Of course, it costs less to pick up the tab at such establishments, but the main benefit is that the less-stuffy atmosphere leads to better conversation.

  • Actually, the sushi bar sounds like a great idea – I will have to look into sushi places in this area.
    Lee, “crazy fast food middle eastern” sounds intriguing. If I ever get to Raleigh one of these days (and it’s always been on my list of places to visit), I will definitely check it out (maybe we can do lunch there?!)
    Shell, I agree – Chicago has some great variety

  • Jane Rusin

    I have a virtual law practice. Usually I meet clients at a Panera Bread half way between their location and mine. If there isn’t a Panera Bread between us then I pick Starbucks or Tim Horton’s. I have also met with clients at libraries. If I ask another attorney out and I am asking for help, I let them pick where they want to go and I pay the bill.

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