I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid. They lived in a log cabin in the county, and the only way to describe their (When I say “their,” I mean my grandmother; my grandfather probably never noticed.) decorative style was “eclectic.” This included Norman Rockwell paintings, Zane Grey books, obnoxious timepieces, afghans, a huge console TV, and various things to remind them of their youth.
One of her more fascinating pieces was a thing to protect the table from hot pans (I would probably now call it a trivet). It hung on the wall next to a large wooden paddle. It had a (strikingly sensual, for the time) image of Mae West, taken from her 1937 movie “Every Day’s a Holiday.”
As a nerdy kid, I often wanted to point out the odd apostrophe, but I didn’t because Ms. West was so intimidating. I now understand that the apostrophe is correct. I am still intimidated by Ms. West.
I have thought about that that wall hanging recently, because it seems like every day really is a holiday now. We now have “National Pancake Day” and “Bubble Bath Day” and “Winnie the Pooh Day.”
Today is no exception: It is “Be Kind to Your Lawyer” Day. As a lawyer, you can imagine, I’m a fan of this holiday. If you do have a lawyer and you want to be kind to him or her, forget about flowers, gift cards, or a cool lawyer coffee mug. The best way to be kind to your lawyer is to make his or her job easier.
So here are four ways you might be kind to your lawyer today.
Leave A Detailed Message
I get many, many phone calls per day; some are from clients, some are from potential clients, and some are from people just wanting to kick the tires.
I try to answer every call that I can, and I want to call everyone back as soon as possible. (I really do.) I don’t mind talking to people who won’t hire me, because I can usually understand their situation quickly and give them some good advice about how to proceed. That’s one of my favorite things about being a lawyer—I can think about something and give some good advice.
But I can’t do that if I have no earthly idea about why someone is calling me. I am significantly more likely to call someone back quickly if I know what they need.
The message doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it does need to be more than “Hey, can you call me back.” If I know why someone is calling, I can take the time before the call to review their file and, if necessary, do a little research, which makes the return phone call much more productive for everyone.
Do What Your Lawyer Tells You to Do
Lawyers, in my experience, are not always the smartest people in the room. Neither are they the wisest people. They are almost certainly not the people you want to ask for advice in every aspect of your life. But when it comes to your case or your legal issue, you need to follow your lawyer’s instructions.
When you’re in the middle of a court case, you have to live under a microscope. You have to cross every “t” and dot every “i,” as they say. (Although, thankfully, almost no one uses this worn-out cliché.) It’s not enough that you continue to be a good person. It’s not enough that you are honest. (Of course, you shouldn’t be less than this.) The law is usually pretty clear in most instances; it’s the facts and following procedure that can change the game.
In the event that a lawyer instructs you to do something illegal or obviously immoral, you shouldn’t ignore them; you need to fire them. Most of a lawyer’s worth is his or her advice, so you’ve got to be able to depend on that.
Tell the Truth
Over the last 800 or so years, our legal system has developed in such a way that it’s pretty good at getting the truth.
If there are two good lawyers on a case and a judge that cares, you will not be able to get away with a lie. It will find you out, and that typically happens at a particularly inopportune time, when you’d like to be believable.
If you have lied, the best thing to do is let your lawyer know immediately. It will save a lot of headache.
Do not Fail a Drug Screen for Methamphetamine
That’s pretty much the extent of it. Just don’t.