How to work with an attorney (Huffington Post article)–part 2

August 27, 2018 - Posted by: admin - In category:

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In the last post, we started discussing the Huffington Post article titled “My Lawyer, My Friend” and this post is a continuation of that discussion.  The premise of the article is that there are important considerations which, if understood and followed by a client, will greatly increase the likelihood that a client dealing with an attorney will have a successful experience and will come away from the working relationship happy and satisfied.  In the prior post, we noted that it is a mistake to give the attorney only part of the information in an effort to save time and costs–as such an approach very often leads to opposite results and larger problems.

In this post we will review another point from the Huffington Post article relating to the propensity of far too many individuals to treat everything they take to their attorney as an emergency–or to procrastinate and otherwise manage time and deadlines so poorly that they do not interact with an attorney until the matter has, in fact, become an emergency.  This is not good for the client or the attorney.

Preventative law is better than emergency law.  

That is one of my favorite sayings at the office and oh, how I wish that I could somehow ingrain that concept among the general public.  While I certainly understand that at times there are unavoidable emergencies, very often the emergencies are either false emergencies or are totally avoidable emergencies.  In many ways, this concept is similar to medicine–many trips to the emergency room can be avoided with some care and planning.  Below is a part of how Mr. Garson addresses the point in his article:

The Boy Who Cried “Rush”
Deadlines sometimes sneak up on all of us. Worse, most executives juggle a lot of plates and only realize one is about to crash at the last second. But don’t make every assignment for your attorney an emergency. That does not mean you need to pull the trigger too soon on a project that is not ready. Sometimes just a “heads up, this might be coming” is enough for an attorney to think about scheduling and staffing the assignment and, consequently, be better prepared for your work.

For some of my clients, every single project is an emergency.  At least, that is the approach taken by the client each time I receive a request for legal services. However, there are many situations where it is evident that such clients have known about the relevant transactions for a very long time, have been working on and through such related matters for several weeks and just did not feel to include me in the communications until a few days before the desired closing date or other deadline.  I recognize that I am in the service industry and therefore, I usually need to take a deep breath, reallocate my time and resources (and reschedule some commitments when required) and do what is required to meet the desired deadline.  So, what’s the problem with this picture? There are a few problematic elements.

First, while some people work better under deadlines and pressure than others, when it comes to creative thinking and careful analytical reasoning for a complex problem, a rush approach is almost never the most effective way to address such things.  Consider what we know of many of the great discoveries in physics, astronomy, medicine and other areas of science.  For most of these, the solutions to significant questions and problems came very slowly over time. Take, for example, Einsteins work on the theory of relativity. Einstein did not receive a demand on Friday that he come up with this ground-breaking discovery and churn it out over the following weekend. Quite to the contrary:

In 1905, Albert Einstein determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and that the speed of light in a vacuum was independent of the motion of all observers. This was the theory of special relativity. It introduced a new framework for all of physics and proposed new concepts of space and time. Einstein then spent 10 years trying to include acceleration in the theory and published his theory of general relativity in 1915. In it, he determined that massive objects cause a distortion in space-time, which is felt as gravity.

Does that mean I am trying to compare myself with Einstein or my work to that of his? No (that would be very arrogant indeed and quite misplaced).  Even so, by loose analogy, the point of mentioning is that emergencies don’t often lend themselves to creative, “out-of-the-box” and inventive discoveries and thought processes.  Rather, emergency situations are most often dealt with by applying whatever immediate and obvious means of dealing with a question or problem are readily available.  Back to the emergency room example–I suspect that very few innovative discoveries in medicine have come out of the hospital emergency room. Such is not the role or expectation of an emergency room physician.  He or she is not there to discover and innovate. Instead, the emergency room doctor is tasked with keeping the patient alive, dealing with the most pressing medical threat and then getting further and more advanced medical expertise for the patient as soon as possible after that.

It is worth mentioning that lawyers are people too (believe it or not), with other clients, families, personal interests and commitments outside a particular client who prefers to “cry wolf” every time he or she contacts the attorney. Just as you do not appreciate or enjoy when someone gives you a false deadline or makes your life more hectic than is necessary because of their lack of organization and proper planning, your attorney will usually not appreciate the same.  Why should you care? Well, maybe you don’t care, but it is my experience that people generally tend to do their best work when they are content, well-rested and when they have good feelings towards those for whom they are working. This is true for attorneys doing legal work on behalf of clients.

In summary, please remember that many emergencies can be avoided with some wise planning and careful thought.  You will usually get better service and results if you give your lawyer sufficient time to review, analyze and schedule your project comfortably ahead of your deadline.  Yes, there are times when emergencies are just that–unavoidable emergencies.  But such are the exception and not the rule. Your attorney understands that reality, so please remember and things will go better between you and your legal services provider.