Monday, July 23, 2012
Let's Strike Up the Choir
I am an extroverted decision maker. That means that when I need to make a decision, I talk about it - to everyone. I think out loud, I ruminate, I ask opinions, I obsess. If it's a truly difficult decision, my friends stop answering my calls after a while, because I can't let it go. Just thinking about it isn't enough (if it were, that would make me an introverted decision maker). Most of my friends and loved ones know that most of the time, they can continue to play Angry Birds while I talk, because I really need an ear more than the advice (although I love the advice too, because my friends and family are awesome and usually think of something I haven't). I also have enough strength of conviction or confidence in the professionals with whom I'm involved, that I know what advice works for me and what doesn't. Usually, but not always, I am also not in an emotional crisis. The same can't be said of many of our clients here in the Trenches. Even if they are usually the most ordered of thinkers, when clients are in the Trenches, their thoughts are in emotional disarray. Most of them have never been in the Trenches before, and the decisions they have to make are unlike any they have ever made before. The stress is enough to turn any introverted thinker into an extroverted one. Our clients don't know what to do, so they ask everyone for advice. Everyone is happy to give it. It seems like the entire world has an opinion about our client's divorce; everyone knows someone who has dealt with the same issues, and our lucky clients ask them for their opinions. It's natural, and it's normal. What happens next is the interesting (and sometimes unpleasant) part about being here in the Trenches. Clients who are emotionally strong and who have confidence in the professionals who are helping them, listen to their friends and family, think about it, and run it by their professionals. Then (and here's the crucial part) after that discussion, they listen to the advice of their professionals. They don't believe their neighbor whose sister got a better settlement, or the contracts attorney who they met at the grocery store; but rather, they discuss what all these folks told them with their own attorney, and ultimately, take their advice. Either that, or they get another attorney. Those of us here in the Trenches won't take offense if they do. But if they don't, they need to stop questioning every decision made here in the Trenches, every piece of strategy. They need to stop telling us how to try the case. Yes, it's their lives, and the ultimate goal of the representation is their decision to make, in consultation with the professionals. Once that decision is made, the logistics of implementing it is the professionals' realm. The clients and the professionals will be happier if they leave it there- here in the Trenches.