As a busy lawyer (and who of us is not busy?) I try to remind myself of a number of key points which are important to remember about my role.
Firstly, I have to remind myself I am here to give advice. It is so tempting to take over and organise my client’s life, maybe even consider pushing them to make the “right” decision or the decision I think is right for their lives. Sometimes I may be frustrated by my client’s choices – but in this case I remind myself then I am no different to the perpetrators in their lives if I start “telling” them how to live their life (I specialise in domestic abuse related cases). The best thing any one of my clients can do is simply make the choice for themselves, based on the advice given. It is always better to be informed when making a choice, in my view.
Secondly, which follows on from the first, I have to remember to ask, “Whose responsibility is it?”. This seems straightforward enough; no doubt like all lawyers I take home a little of my client’s worries and concerns, I mull over their problems trying to think of ways to help solve them. If I allowed it to, this could result in me becoming more invested than I should and then taking on the responsibility of the problem.
This problem mostly manifests itself when my client wants something urgently. I’ll get a call saying, “You need to do this now!” and I immediately go into overdrive thinking of ways in which I can do what is asked. The next issue is then getting the supporting paperwork, finding the time to make or draft the necessary applications and waiting for the appropriate papers to come in from my client so I can progress their instructions. I have to remember that if my client wants the task completing, they need to bring me the documents quickly so I can start work.
Thirdly, preparation to avoid the three P’s! I am sure I do not need to tell anyone what the three P’s stand for and why we all need to try to avoid them. I remind myself not to take on too much, plan ahead and try to foresee what may arise. It is my belief that it is better to do an excellent job for one client, so they feel valued and looked after, than do a mediocre job or poor job for three people where no one is happy. Sometimes this means I will have to say no to a case which I would really like to do, but this is so that I can prioritise my existing client and show them how important they are to me.
This is not legal advice, I think of it more as how to get the best from your lawyer.