As a practicing lawyer for over 33 years, I have come to appreciate that having a core set of values is a crucial underpinning to sustainability in the practice of law. In these challenging times of constant change, it is all too easy to succumb to ambivalence and even to cynicism. The legal milieu is not an arena for the faint of heart as it necessarily requires strength of character and clarity of purpose. Serving a client involves protecting both their financial and emotional interests. I call these core values, my principles of practice. They are:
At all times, I will act with integrity. This means that I must do what I believe to be right. I will discern what is right by listening to my inner voice. I will be guided by that internal compass, irrespective of the external circumstances.
A lawyer should be a harbinger of truth. In this sense, truth means fairness. If I am fair, it will help my clients to define their goals and help them to achieve those goals in a manner which is fair- not only to themselves but to others as well.
In this context, efficiency means being able to do the most for my clients while keeping their best interests at heart. A person’s best interest is not necessarily served by getting the most, but rather by achieving balance so that a solution can be maintained.
Good advice involves more than legal expertise. I am more than a technician, trained in the law. It is the quality of my advice by which I will be judged. Legal problems must always be understood within a broader life context. Helping a client become clear about their situation is often the first step in resolving the problem.
In order to help my clients achieve their true objectives [which are not necessarily their stated objectives], I must come to understand where the person is coming from. This will come from listening to my clients and attempting to discern the hidden or root concern.
The solicitor-client relationship is founded upon mutual respect. Too often, lawyers take a superior posture with their clients. By having compassion and being approachable, I can still command the respect of my clients. My clients should have respect for my legal expertise, just as I will have respect for their position and their need for consultation.
Clarity of Mission
Having discerned the true objective of each client, I will have a certain mission with each client. This clarity of purpose will enable both the lawyer and client to benefit from their mutual association
Clients frequently confuse aggression with strength, thinking they need the former when they really need the latter. Assertiveness means having the strength of character to recognize and pursue the truth. It means standing up for what is fair while recognizing the attempts of other lawyers and clients to manipulate and exploit circumstances for selfish ends.
There must always be balance in life. To be effective, it is important that I enjoy what I do. This means that I will always try to maintain my sense of humour. We all have a serious obligation not to take life too seriously.
My goal with each client is to help them through each matter, by providing sound advice and an unsurpassed level of personal service
“The time docket system has become a great boon to lawyers. Through the miracle of computers, time keeping becomes a method of instant revenue generation. An hour recorded becomes a fee that can be sent to the client once the hourly rate is applied. Revenues can be increased simply by increasing the hourly rate. It is an extremely efficient method of income procurement. The problem is that there are few checks and balances in the system that favour the client.”