I began my practice of law well after my children were able to care for themselves. Although my children are now what I consider grown, I am realizing that I can still put to good use the advice I gave them (in some instances, they gave me) in my law practice. Not that I treat my clients as children, but rather these simple words of wisdom can be adapted to any area in life; however, I am finding they are particularly useful in the legal realm. What follows are 10 truths, my children have heard, and now, my clients are hearing.
1. Hang on tight. Always be prepared for a bumpy ride. It won’t always be that way, there will be good and bad periods during your case, but be prepared and hang on tight.
2. Ask why until you understand. Always ask me questions, if you are confused or you believe I am confused. We need to stay on the same page at all times.
3. If your room is messy, close the door. If you mess up, keep it private. Don’t text it, facebook it, tweet it, or email it! My daughter, now home from college, still adheres to this philosophy – literally.
4. It doesn’t matter who started it. It matters more about how it is handled and who finishes it.
5. Ask for whipped cream. Pay attention to details. Details pay dividends, especially when it comes to settlements. My son never fails to top of his favorite dessert with whipped cream, a detail he claims that makes a difference.
6. If you want cow, ask for a herd. There is a back story here. My son wanted cow for his birthday, and he asked for cows. He was relentless in his requests. He got “cow” everything. He even got a visit from a cow. (My father wore a cow costume at his party!) If you want it, ask for it. But if you really want it, ask for everything.
7. Next week comes tomorrow. Hearing day always comes before you feel fully ready. All along the way, you should be preparing for the big day, even if you believe you are going to settle your case. That’s right, even if you think everything is all worked out, you should be prepared to try your case. When you case is called, your time is up!
8. You can’t start over just because you’re losing the game. If the facts and the law are not on your side, you can’t ask for do-overs nor do you call it quits. You still may have the ability to minimize the damages. You may lose, but you may be able to control how badly you get beaten. Starting over was a popular strategy of my son when he was young. Anytime he wasn’t able to take Rainbow Trail or Gumdrop Pass, he wanted to start Candyland all over again.
9. Keep going door to door until someone opens the door. Don’t give up, be persistent. Whether that applies to calling your lawyer, fighting for your child, or defending your constitutional rights: do not give up, ever! You have permission to compromise, or consider different alternatives but don’t just give up. My son followed this pearl of wisdom when he participated in school fundraisers. He was a two-time champ for the most items sold.
10. You are just as special as the next person. Sadly and rarely, is your case unique. Sure, every case is different, but the applicable law is generally the same. It’s how the facts fit into the law that will make the difference. Clients sometimes believe they are alone in what they are facing or what they have experienced. Knowing they are not “special” is actually helpful, if these same clients are in need of help. My office is able to give resource information to obtain counseling for domestic violence, drug treatment, job training, mental health therapy and financial assistance. If you need these resources, find them – it will help you to cope with what is happening legally and it could be beneficial to your case. (See advice # 2.)
Some of these “words of advice” may lead you to think that child services must have been called to my home, but let me say this: I have always been honest with my children and my clients. Truthfulness works both ways in my house and in my office.
By the way, neither of my children is in therapy – yet. The advice in numbers 2 & 3 came from my daughter. She gave it to my husband and me at a very early age, and we have followed it to this very day. She is still inquisitive and remains a private person. The advice in numbers 5 & 6 comes from my son. Both of these gems follow the same logic and reflect his “dream big” personality and his enjoyment of life in general.