Once again it’s my favorite time of the year – Be Kind to Lawyers Day!  Ok, kidding, it’s not my absolute favorite day.  But, I do appreciate the sentiment.

It was four years ago that I first wrote about this “holiday,” and to be honest, I haven’t seen it picking up as much steam as some other important dates (we lawyers will catch up to you yet, National Potato Chip Day!). A few more of these posts and we’ll get it up there with Thanksgiving in no time.

But in the spirit of spreading unexpected kindness, I wanted to share an example of some of the little joys of being a defense attorney.  As I wrote in my post years ago, “If you enter this field expecting gratitude, you will likely be very disappointed.”  Well, nothing has changed about that.  But little gestures of appreciation from satisfied clients always are a pleasure to experience.

I had a very tough case come through my door a few months back.  The prospective client was being held in jail and his family discussed hiring our office to help.  The only problem was, the client already had a lawyer on the case.  Normally, that’s no problem to fire the old lawyer and bring me on board, but in this case, the time it would have taken to do that was going to really cost the client.  Since he was in jail, every day counted to getting him out.

After looking at it all closely, and talking with the other lawyer, I decided it would be best for the client if I didn’t take on the case, and to let the other lawyer complete their plan to release the client.  The client and his family reluctantly agreed with me.  Fortunately, everything worked out and the client was able to be released from jail earlier than if I had come onto the case.

I didn’t charge the client or family for any of my time, although I spent a lot on it.  I just didn’t think it would have been fair, since from my perspective I didn’t do much.  But in talking with the client and his family, they disagreed with me.  They saw my work as a conduit or connection between the other lawyer and the client, and as a valuable second opinion.  Since they trusted me, when I told them that everything looked good, they believed it, and that gave them some peace of mind.  Still, I didn’t take a fee, and I wished the client and family well.  I thought that was the last I’d hear of it.

About three months later, I got in the mail a very thoughtful handmade card of appreciation with letters written by the client and family thanking me for all my help.  It had clearly been crafted with care, and it was very touching.  I didn’t expect it, but it was sure nice to receive.  What seemed like nothing to me was so important to someone else.  I think that’s a good lesson to remember – lawyers need to have empathy for others.

So today and in the future, I hope we take the spirit of Be Kind to Lawyers Day and spread it amongst everyone we meet.  The world could always use some more kindness, don’t you think?

-Derek
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