While I could focus on many things, today I want to focus our firm’s commitment to our clients. As an Illinois attorney, I am constantly reminded of the many fine attributes of Abraham Lincoln, who in addition to being a great president was probably the greatest Illinois lawyer. A recent article, from which I am freely borrowing, summarized Lincoln’s guiding principles as a lawyer to be the following:
· Read the law avidly, especially as a law student and young lawyer. Lincoln loved the law and studied assiduously.
· Work hard.
· Understand the facts and science of your case. Lincoln was tireless in understanding the facts of his cases and in his study of the “contraptions” of the day.
· Be respectful and civil. Lincoln showed respect to all, not because of the exigencies of a case or a political situation, but because he appreciated the human dignity of all people.
· Be diligent and prepared in all things.
· Cultivate speaking, especially extemporaneous speaking.
· But do not rely on speaking alone as an exemption from the hard work of the law.
· Discourage litigation and be a peacemaker. Lincoln emphasized the cost of litigation and the waste of energy. I would add that a lawyer’s best day in court is often one of the worst days of the client’s life.
· Do not stir up litigation – Lincoln saw this as a moral issue.
· The matter of fees is more important than bread and butter. Set your fee structure such that you retain an interest in diligently representing your client.
· Honesty trumps all. Do not be a lawyer if you cannot be honest.
Well, “Honest Abe” took down his law shingle 160-years ago. But as I appreciate it, this is how he would deal with clients today:
1. He would be “painfully” honest with his clients. Probable costs and probable outcomes would never be “sugar coated.”
2. He would always attempt to find a solution to an issue without resorting to civil litigation. Lawyers make a lot of money “trying cases” and clients spend a lot of money on their lawyers. He always worked to find a better and less expensive option for his clients, even though that worked against his best economic interests.
3. He would always be prepared. No exceptions.
4. He would be available to his clients. This would mean, today, promptly receiving and responding to emails, texts, letters, and telephone calls – no exceptions. Even while on vacation, you bear an obligation to your clients. Covid-19 cannot be used as an excuse for not meeting your clients’ needs. He would tell us that we must adapt to the circumstances, no excuses.
5. He would use “state of the art” technology. This makes us more responsive, saves you money, and avoids “break downs” caused by things like the Covid-19 scare. Again, no excuses.
6. He would commit himself to public service. This means, among other things, being a frequent speaker at legal seminars, and other activities geared towards improving the legal profession and making the legal profession more “user friendly” for clients. In short, lawyers should give back.
You are a client; you are a great client; you are a valued client – you deserve the best!
When you employ at attorney, are you employing “a Lincoln” or something less?
by Jack M. Wilhelm
Edward Wilhelm and Jack Wilhelm provide tremendously high value legal assistance to a large number of very desirable clients.
THE WILHELM LAW FIRM, 5524 Bee Caves Road, Suite B5, Austin, TX 78746; (512) 236 8400 (phone); (512) 236 8404 (fax); www.wilhelmlaw.net
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