Doing the Right Thing

This tip is so obvious and so often violated by my colleagues, especially the unimaginative ones:

When you have the opportunity to influence your client “to do the right thing”, and she firmly wants to act out in anger, retribution, or pettiness, insist that she, or he,  do the right thing.

Of course, I have an advantage, at least over the client, and over most other lawyers in that:  

1. I am quite assertive;

2. The client has hired me because she has already heard I am the best;

3. The arguments for doing the right thing are so powerful that they cannot be successfully countered most of the time; and,

4. When doing the right thing is patently the correct course of action, I simply insist on it.

One quick example:

You know your client has come up with excuses, some legitimate, but mostly bogus, screwing her child’s “out of state father” out of a dozen week-ends and weeks in the last year. He agrees to “trade a week-end” so that the child does not miss middle school graduation activities. She repays that consideration by announcing that since she only gave up a “two day week-end”, that he has to travel back to WV with child on Sunday of Memorial Day Week-end!

I would say, “You what!?”; patiently explain that she will look like a vindictive idiot to the Court, and insist she “do the right thing”.

Other lawyers might parrot his client’s drivel  because of misplaced loyalty; that is, loyalty to what the client thinks she wants compared to what she should want and should do.

Generous gestures usually bear constructive responses, but even where they do not, you and your client will feel better about yourselves, and you will have done the right thing, and a child will get one more full day with father and day of rest on a busy week-end. Who can argue against integrity?

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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