This blog is based upon a blog post from David M. Ward. Here’s the link to his blog post:
Now I love David’s advice, but I take issue with him a little on this blog post. So I’ll quote his post verbatim below, then tell you why I disagree with him to an extent. David writes:
The number one thing your clients want to know If you handle consumer or small business matters, it’s a safe bet that most of your clients are nervous when they come to see you. They’re apprehensive about the outcome of their case or matter, concerned about how much time it will take, and worried about the cost. You need to be honest with them, but that doesn’t mean you need to be blunt. If you’re smart, your words and body language will tell them that they shouldn’t worry, that everything will be okay. Because that’s what they want to hear. Instead of saying, “X [bad thing] will probably happen,” you might say, “X [bad thing] might happen”. I went to the doctor the other day for a minor issue. At the end of the appointment, I said, “Do I need to see you again?” The doctor said, “Not unless X [a mildly bad thing] happens.” That sounded good. I was encouraged. I took it mean that while “it” might happen, it wasn’t likely. Yay. The next day, my wife called the doctor’s office to ask a question. She spoke to the nurse who answered the question and then said, “He’ll probably need to come back.” Nobody wants to hear that, even if it’s true. Tell me it might happen, okay. Tell me it probably will happen and instead of focusing on getting better, I’m imagining the worst. Bedside manner is an important part of a patient’s recovery. Doctors need to be hopeful and positive, because the patient wants to know that, “everything is going to be okay.” Even if the patient is terminal, there’s always hope. Lawyers are in the same boat. Instead of telling the client that the insurance company will probably force the case to trial, why not say, “If we can’t settle this and have to go to trial. . .”? Because your clients want to know that everything is going to be okay.
Okay, that is Mr. Ward’s blog post. Do you agree with him? I have to tell you that I am an avid reader of Mr. Ward’s material, and for the most part I find all of it insightful and very usefAnd clearly he’s right when he advises lawyer’s to be sensitive to their clients’ fears and anxieties. “Bedside manner,” as Mr. Ward puts it, is an essential part of helping a client not only stay positive and upbeat, but necessary to ensure the client does not see the world through “woes” colored glasses. Still, in my opinion, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a lawyer to encourage a client to look on the bright side if the lawyer doesn’t believe it himself. And even if the lawyer is unsure of how a case or controversy will turn out, false or fabricated optimism may do both client and attorney more harm than good. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that you should hire a lawyer who always speaks in a worst-case scenario terms. But let me be frank, and this is the most important part of this video: our justice system isn’t perfectly just. Those at all levels of the system do not merely make mistakes, they all too frequently lie and cheat. I think attorneys do their clients a grave disservice when they sacrifice candor for the sake of being gentle or optimistic. Don’t you? Now I know the difference between lying to a client and soft-soaping the truth, but would you rather be as accurately informed as possible, even if the news is bad? Or would you rather be benevolently deceived, even if only a little bit? Lawyers aren’t allowed to make false statements to courts, they aren’t allowed to conceal the truth from courts. Why should lawyers be any different? Ultimately, isn’t a lawyer who deceives you in any way ultimately a lawyer who doesn’t trust you?
A positive attitude in your lawyer is a plus, just as long as that positive attitude does not come at the expense of you knowing what’s really going on, so that you can make truly informed decisions.
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