Friday, May 16, 2008

How The Best Lawyers Do It

My aunt and uncle, Eleanor and Charles Morgan, own a company based out of Atlanta. I was hanging out with them at my grandparents' house in Birmingham when my uncle said this:

Charles: "I hate to tell you Sharon, but I hate lawyers."
Me: "Haha. Most people do."
Charles: "Well, I do like my attorney, for one reason: I tell him what I want or need, and he makes it happen. He doesn't tell me what I need to do."

I've been thinking about this ever since we had that conversation. Uncle Charlie has a point -- a good lawyer should be able to argue either side and get the outcome that their client wants. But we do work within a system of set rules, and lawyers don't have the authority to change the rules. There are things we can and can't do, outcomes that are more or less probable.

If I were a real lawyer, I would probably be guilty (heh) of deciding the best outcome and then telling my client what we need to do to get there, but this conversation highlighted something good. Listening is important. Listen to your client, find out what they want, then figure out how to get it for them (of course, working within the rules). In my perception, that's what the best lawyers do.

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