I have been wondering what the heck the role of lawyers has been recently, especially since some have thrust themselves into the national debate so dramatically Any lawyer in the national debate has been calling their favorite reporter or appearing on national TV to give their own opinion about the pros and cons on national headlines. That was their choice and they will live with the consequences of their decisions.
My concern is not for them. They are the darlings of the national dramatic cinema and will suffer the vagaries of public opinion. My concern is about the local lawyer and how he deals with the backlash of public opinion.
My first suggestion is to all lawyers is to take a deep breath on any issue. I would suggest a walk in the park, a marathon run, a trip to the gym, an electroshock treatment, anything to get you to detach from the debate of the moment, which includes your client’s version of the facts.
Any lawyer that has been to the courthouse knows that when people get on the stand and are faced with the solemnity of the oath can say pretty strange, unexpected things. These confessions have no resemblance to what they told you in your office when they hired you.
So how do you live with this in the real world? You tell them when they come in you expect complete honesty. You tell them what they don’t tell you will hurt them. You ask them what the opposition will say about them. You ask them what the witnesses will say. They tend to get honest at that point.
I could tell you a lot of stories that you have heard. But how do you take this home? How do you do your civic duty when you suspect your client isn’t the best? I remember having to remove myself from a case in the middle of trial because my client was lying and going home to a disciplinary hearing for my son because he was addicted to coricidin. How do you balance that?
For every lawyer out there, I have some suggestions:
- Make family first, your career is second.
- Take time for yourself, even if it is only ten minutes a day.
- Look at all the national lawyers who are under indictment and ask yourself was it worth it?
- Resolve to live up to the standards you wish for yourself and others.
- Be kind, courteous and have integrity in everything you do.
- Be a positive example for others.
Being a lawyer is a double-edged sword. The public expects us to be super-human, and few of us are. All we can do is the best we can. I have learned the hard way the following rules:
- Publicity, in the long run, is bad.
- Everything you put on the public record will haunt you.
- Social media is a jealous darling.
- Your best advertising comes from satisfied clients.
- Being honest with your client is the best option.
- Promising results will bite you in the ass.
- Never fall in love with your client.
- Laugh at least once a day.
Keeping a level head amongst all of the pros and cons of practicing law can be difficult, but not impossible. Don’t take anything personally and never assume anything. You will survive.