Why do we lawyers call what we do a “practice”? I suppose it is because we are always striving to do well for our clients and that the law is not an exact science. All we can do is know the law and apply it to our client’s circumstances. This is why it is so very important for the client to be honest with their lawyer from the beginning. If we don’t know the facts, the advice and strategy we put together for our client is going to be flawed and then we cannot possibly be successful for our them. Why is this such a difficult thing for clients to do?
Mostly because this is new for them. Going to see a lawyer is a stressful thing and usually a new territory for the client. We are seeing you for the first time and asking you to pour out your story to us; even though we just met. How arrogant are WE? Actually, we aren’t. We just want to know what to expect legally from the other side and how to properly counsel and protect you. Trust me when I say, your situation is unique to you absolutely but not unique to that area of law. Nothing surprises us. (things used to surprise me when I first started practicing but I got past that fairly quickly)
For example, If you have been wrongfully terminated from your employment it is not my job to point out to you what you should have done better or why this happened. My job is to assess the situation based on the facts that surround the dismissal and then advise you of any options you have to negotiate a proper settlement. Or if you are an employer, how to properly terminate an employee with respect and dignity and provide the proper amount of notice. It is NOT my job to judge. I leave that to the……well…….the Judge!
Facts cannot change. That is why they are facts. The law in most areas is settled so while it is not a science, it is settled such that we try to ensure that decisions follow the same rationale. For example, in a divorce it is simply not the case that the mother should always have care and control of the children and that they get to decide when and where dad gets to see the children. That simply is not the law. The law is that BOTH parents have equal rights when it comes to parenting children. One parent does not trump the other. that is because the law recognizes that it is in the best interests of the children to have maximum contact with BOTH parents. But what will that contact look like? Well of course THAT depends on your facts.
So tell us everything. We want to help you. You came to us for help so let us do our job. We are bound by an oath and confidentiality and trust me, I don’t want to lose my license by breaching that oath. I went to school for far too long to give it all up by speaking outside of that oath. So I won’t. It is okay to tell us everything; that is the only way I can help you. And to help you, I need to know you.