As a practicing lawyer for over 25 years, it is fair to say I have seen life from many different vantage points. In fact, it is the thing I love most about being a lawyer – I get to know and understand a client's problem or challenge from the client's perspective and see the world through their eyes. On TV lawyers are about the dramatics of the courtroom and withering cross-examinations, but in the real world, most lawyers are down in the trenches alongside their clients trying to navigate a foreign terrain and solve emotionally charged problems. Hopefully I have been helpful to many of my clients, but on the flip side of things, I have learned a great deal about life from my clients.
This blog is my platform for sharing insights and lessons I have learned from representing hundreds of people in very difficult situations. My intention is to tell the stories of what I have seen, not only for their entertainment value (some quite humorous and others very sad) but more importantly for the life lessons they teach us. Ultimately we learn from one another, regardless of how much education we have had or the initials after our name. In that sense, we are all equal and none of us is immune from the challenges of this world. Our lives can change in an instant. We need one another.
My plan is to write a post weekly, though perhaps more frequently if time allows. It may be a story about a case in which I am involved, or a simple reflection of something I encountered that I think may be of interest to others, or a short vignette like my recent post When Sibling Rivalry Comes Back to Bite Us. Or it may just be a frustration I have experienced dealing with a legal system that is not always very kind or forgiving. While I believe our legal system as a whole is intended to be “just,” I also know that “justice” is not always served in every case. The harsh reality is that some people feel betrayed by the legal system and many of them for good reason. Ultimately “justice” is a state of mind and today there are many creative ways to achieve a “just” outcome. We should be talking about these approaches and alternatives to the litigation process such as mediation, arbitration, collaborative law and other alternative dispute resolution processes that are intended to encourage amicable agreements, especially among family members and business associates where the preservation of relationships is critical. Some see a suggestion to mediate as a sign of weakness. I don't. I see it as an act of courage and wisdom.
It is also the case that legal services have become overpriced for most people which acts as a deterrent to getting basic things done like having a Will or a Power of Attorney and Living Will or setting up a business. Advances in technology and the use of on-line communications can have a tremendous impact on how legal services can be offered and lowering costs significantly. We should be talking about on-line legal services and expecting our attorneys to offer these types of services at reduced costs.
I welcome comments and constructive feedback that are intended to further these discussions. I well appreciate that others may view a set of facts differently than me so I welcome a healthy exchange of insights and perspectives. However, negative comments intended to discredit someone or mock a position should be kept to yourself. Like any fruitful relationship, it starts with a heavy dose of mutual respect and deference. Of course, for privacy purposes fictitious names should always be used and identification markers should be avoided. And nothing said in this blog should be construed as legal advice. For legal advice, you need to retain and consult with a lawyer for your particular matter. This blog is about sharing stories, ideas and experiences, not rendering legal advice about a particular issue.
My hope is that the stories and reflections exchanged on this blog will help us all to become better and more insightful professionals, family members, friends and citizens as we go about our business each and every day living out our busy lives and contributing to the welfare of others. This world can be a frightening place but for the helping hands of others. Ultimately, I believe, we all have a moral and ethical responsibility to help those who are struggling, though in doing so we learn a good deal about ourselves and who we are. I think Mahatma Ganghi summed it up well:
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”– Mahatma Gandhi
It is in the spirit of helping one another that I launch this blog.