It’s easy to spot lost patrons. It’s a little bit harder to spot patrons who don’t know that they’re lost, especially in a law setting. It’s hardest to tell patrons that they’re lost.

Here are a few conversation starters to get you over that awkward hurdle of approaching someone who (perhaps) knows more than you, but not the thing that you’re going to share with them:

  • “You know, I just read an article about this very thing and the author cited ____________. Have you seen it already?”
  • “One more suggestion, that I’m sure you have already seen…”
  • “I would be doing you a disservice if I did not mention ______ .”
  • “This is new,” or “This is old and obscure,” or “This has just been updated.”
  • “Does your issue have anything to do with this item, _____ ?”

Sometimes it’s easiest to come out and tell the person, “No, no, listen to me, I’ve got what you need.” Other times, soft power is more effective. You’ll know which tactic to chose.