Lawyers and those in their employ can and will make a mistake from time to time. It happens. Should a significant misstep ever occur on one of your matters, what might the fallout be? Think about this as a member of our learned and honorable profession. Clearly the client will be harmed in some fashion. Now, put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask who should be held responsible, particularly if a financial loss is part of the equation? You know darn well what the answer is. After all, if a lawyer representing you on a personal injury matter blew a statute that resulted in a lost opportunity for any kind of recovery, you would expect to be made whole and you know it. This is why I don’t get the excuses. Purchasing malpractice insurance isn’t about protecting lawyers. It’s about protecting clients should something go wrong, which makes it, at least in my mind, the right thing to do.
As a profession we’re constantly being reminded about the importance of A2J (Access to Justice) for low income folks. We are forcing newly minted attorneys into Pro Bono work touting it as a rite of passage, an honor and a privilege to give back for earning this license. Those charged with a crime are given public defenders at no cost to protect their rights. But what about plaintiffs in difficult personal injury or medical malpractice situations where it is not about the lawyer foregoing a fee and putting in a few check marks in the pro bono column, but taking on cases that challenge an attorney to swing for the fences even if the odds are slim there will be a financial return; where the overarching goal is hopefully helping to right a significant wrong and maybe prevent future wrongs? What about that difficult personal injury case or medical malpractice case that fewer and fewer lawyers have the caring or courage or fortitude to take on because the odds are against victory, though should they be victorious, there is tremendous financial reward plus the gratification of helping someone? What about that plaintiff who needs that real cowboy?
Professionalism is not well-defined in our profession. We all know unprofessionalism when we see it. The lawyer who seems to be more concerned about his fees than he is about the merits of the case. The lawyer who disrespects the court or other lawyers. The lawyer who bloviates and obfuscates when she doesn’t understand the law or her own argument. The lawyer who gets disciplined for trust accounting violations or failing to communicate with the client. But do we always know professionalism when we see it?
On a cold Tuesday afternoon, just three years after I graduated from law school, I heard code red called in the ER. The code was for me. I was 30 seconds from death: veins collapsed, no blood pressure, 30 pounds under weight, metabolic acidosis prevailed, 32 ounces of blood lost daily, and no ability to sit upright or walk. I was 28 years old and knew nothing about how my reactions cause outcomes. Not knowing almost killed me. Years of stress and anger had taken their toll…..
Working from home can be an amazing experience if it is planned correctly; an unmitigated disaster if it’s not. More importantly, if handled incorrectly there can be a lot of friction in your home. Why? Because, while your spouse and kids go off to work and school to then come home to their ‘sanctuary’, you are carefully and thoughtfully converting your sanctuary into a work space for a finite number of hours each day. This is a major psychological challenge. How do you do it successfully?
I had lunch recently with a young lawyer who has been out of work for a while. She had worked for a BigLaw firm for a couple of years before getting caught up in a layoff. Several months later, she was still searching for a law firm that wanted to hire her. She was, quite […]
I heard a story on NPR this morning about a 1993 Harvard Business Review Article entitled “The Memo Every Woman Keeps in Her Desk.” I remembered the article. It made some waves, back in the day. In the article, author Kathleen Reardon asks several influential business people whether a female executive should send a memo regarding sexism in the workplace to the company’s CEO. The memo details the struggles of women to be heard and treated equally by their male peers. Then it asks several prominent professionals whether she should give the memo to the CEO or let it sit in her desk drawer. Find out …..
I’m just going to vent a little. Why oh why is it so damned hard to find an assistant for a small firm?
I have hired eleven assistants in the past seven years. Yes. Eleven. Here’s my story.
Do you ever feel like an imposter? As successful as you are do you believe you are just fooling people because deep down you are incompetent, taking money for work you are ill-prepared to do? Do you think one day you will be found out for the fraud that you are? Well, so do most lawyers. Suzanne Meehle shares her story.
The truth is lawyers tend to be rather impressed with how much they know because non-lawyers are generally impressed with what they believe attorneys know. And this can really box lawyers in when they don’t have answers. One of the most profound ways to transform yourself and transform your relationship with clients and others in your life is to share that you don’t have all the answers.