Building trust in client relationships comes down to simple honesty.
You’ve heard the one about the “honest lawyer” as a paradox.
But an honest lawyer is exactly what Andrew J. Geiger of Allan Berger & Associates prides himself on being.
He’ll never be that lawyer claiming to be the best or bragging that he can earn his clients a fortune. Instead, when meeting with potential clients, he restates their expectations and lets them know what he can deliver. “Starting off openly and honestly with your clients goes a long way toward building trust,” Geiger says. “You have to be honest with them and with yourself.”
Geiger backs it up with hard work. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and his law degree from Tulane University. Since returning to New Orleans in 2009 from a firm in New York City, he has successfully represented hundreds of clients in personal injury cases involving automobile accidents, pharmaceutical litigation, product device litigation, medical malpractice and premises liability. He was featured in the Young Lawyers Spotlight Section of the Louisiana Bar Journal and was named a Super Lawyer in 2017.
What sets Allan Berger & Associates apart, Geiger says, is its 40-year presence and involvement in the community. While the firm has obtained numerous multimillion dollar settlements and judgments, “My father-in-law Allan Berger has taught me that first and foremost, this is a service industry,” he says. “The key for us is to be responsive to any and all needs of our clients. When clients call, they speak to their lawyer, not to someone else or to voicemail. I want them to have the confidence that we are actively working on their case, that their issues are being addressed and that we are here for them throughout the process.”
Setting an atmosphere of comfort from the clients’ first visit puts them at ease and builds trust, says Geiger, who values the client relationship above all other aspects of the work he does.
“Needing legal representation can be a stressful time in people’s lives,” Geiger says. “We want to take the intimidation factor out of going to see a lawyer. Our office isn’t located in a corporate glass high-rise, but rather in an inviting pink Victorian-style building on Canal Street in Mid-City. Once clients walk in the door, they don’t feel like they’re going to a lawyer’s office — they feel like they’re going to someone’s house.”
Obtaining settlements and verdicts for his clients is humbling for Geiger because of all the work he and the staff of the firm puts in on each case. “To get a verdict in our favor and to see the joy on the faces of our clients whose lives have been so upended by their injuries, that’s what it’s really all about,” he says. “To be able to help make a true difference in someone’s life is extremely gratifying.”
On looking young but being 39: “I have been told that I look younger than I am, which has its pros and cons,” Geiger says. “I know people look for the more experienced attorney with gray hair … that’s the stereotype … but being a bit younger helps me identify with younger clients who appreciate that I am constantly available by email, text or cell phone.”
On working in NYC: “I love Manhattan, but the work was less engaging,” Geiger says. “I did a lot of transactional work and what felt like pushing paper. I’m more of a people person, so being able to do what I do now — interacting with people in New Orleans on a daily basis, seeing the difference I am making in each of their lives — it’s a much better fit.”
On balancing work with three boys at home (including 2 year-old twins): “Certainly there’s a lot of coffee involved, but, I think one of the keys for myself and my wife, is that we work hard, but when we leave work, we try not to bring it home with us,” he says. “Once we’re home, the kids get all the attention.” He adds that their home is their sanctuary … at least until the boys are in bed and the laptops come out.
On kids being little lawyers: “I can tell that my 4 year-old is already on the fast track to advocacy of some type, maybe because both of his parents are lawyers,” he says. “An argument at home with a 4 year-old should only go one way … it’s remarkable to see him take the things we’re telling him, and argue and negotiate around them for him and his brothers. It’s kind of scary actually.”
Andrew Geiger at Allan Berger & Associates
4173 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70119