Everybody is involved in some form of legal action at some point during their lives. I hope that you will never have need of an attorney. But if you do, I hope you will give me an opportunity to serve you. You need someone who believes in your case and is willing to look out for your interests, even when at times you don’t have the energy or desire to do it for yourself. That is the essence of the attorney-client relationship.
Confidentiality and communication are paramount when dealing with legal matters. Whether it is a criminal action, a divorce, or a business deal you need to know that your legal matters are absolutely protected from disclosure. I do a lot of work with friends and family and it is important to know that when you are consulting your attorney (whether it is me or anyone else) there is no need to be embarrassed. Your attorney wears a different hat when operating in his professional capacity and will not judge you, your motives, or your actions. With this knowledge, you should have the confidence needed to keep your attorney fully informed so that he can represent you better. In that same vein, your attorney should communicate well with you and promptly respond to emails, texts, and phone calls. That is one commitment that I make to all of my clients. One thing that I do differently than most other attorneys, is that I do not generally charge for phone calls. I have found that when a client is afraid their bill is going to be inflated for every phone call, it causes the client to withhold information or otherwise prevents them from asking legitimate questions to help them understand their own case. Of course, there are times when the client’s phone calls become so time consuming that I have no choice to charge for my time – however, it is my practice to inform any such client under those circumstances.
I believe that an initial consultation should be free so that a potential client can find out if they even want me to perform services prior to getting into their wallet. Regarding legal fees and costs, I would mention that I know it can be expensive – and paying legal fees is probably the last thing on which people would like to spend their hard-earned money. However, if you are defending a case or seeking to recoup costs associated with a personal injury to make yourself whole, it is better to pay some money to your attorney than to pay a lot of money to the opposing party. I also believe, especially with my business and corporate clients, that getting your legal affairs in order is a positive investment. Businesses should always budget for legal matters as they would with any other utility necessary to keep the doors open because it could be the difference between actually keeping the doors open or not. All attorneys require an initial retainer in order to begin your case and if you do not have a little nest-egg set aside, you will have a problem. Retainers are an important part of the attorney-client relationship because those with legal issues are often in crisis or turmoil and the sad truth is that no matter how much you trust (or want to trust) a client to pay on a regular billing schedule, it is often outside their control to do so, and therefore, the attorney is often left unpaid. This presents a problem for other clients if the attorney cannot keep his doors open due to excessive “accounts receivable.” And as callous as it may sound to a potential client- I need to feed my family too!
I view my roles in representing clients as that of advocate and counselor. Clients seek legal assistance because they need someone who will very succinctly explain their legal rights, responsibilities, and options. But as an advocate for my clients, I also fight hard to protect their interests and I know that an attorney can be aggressive but courteous, candid but fair, yet relentless in obtaining the result the client desires. Although I cannot guarantee any particular result in a case, I commit to all my clients that I will work hard and smart to obtain the desired outcome.
Another important part of my philosophy regarding the practice of law is that the client ultimately makes the important decisions regarding any case. In other words, the client is in control. As your attorney, I will never force you to take a particular action or accept a certain settlement – but I will always commit to give you sound advice and strongly encourage you to do that which is most prudent. But I want all prospective clients to know that my character and integrity are more important to me than any client. I know the difference between that which is legal and that which is moral. I will always explain the two options to my clients – but I will not do anything that I feel is immoral or unethical. If that results in getting fired, so be it. I see this at times in divorces or in business. But it is not my practice to aid a client in taking unfair advantage of another. Notwithstanding, it is also important to reiterate that I represent my clients zealously and serve only their best interests and not those of any opposing party. Often times I find myself encouraging my clients to be more aggressive because it is unnatural for most people to stand up for themselves, and that is the role of your attorney (i.e. to stand up for you even when you are not ready or able to stand up for yourself). But again, if I have a client that wants me to cross certain lines, I will not do it.
My father is an attorney and I grew up with an exposure to this profession. Despite all the jokes and/or negative perspectives regarding attorneys, I know in my heart that it truly is a noble profession. I have taken the following oath:
I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT:
I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Idaho.
I will abide by the rules of professional conduct adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court.
I will respect courts and judicial officers in keeping with my role as an officer of the court.
I will represent my clients with vigor and zeal, and will preserve inviolate their confidences and secrets.
I will never seek to mislead a court or opposing party by false statement of fact or law, and will scrupulously honor promises and commitments made.
I will attempt to resolve matters expeditiously and without unnecessary expense.
I will contribute time and resources to public service, and will never reject, for any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed.
I will conduct myself personally and professionally in conformity with the high standards of my profession.
SO HELP ME GOD. (I hereby affirm.)
Why is any oath required for admission to the practice of the law? No oath is required by law for admission to practice in any other profession, even where qualifications to practice are prescribed or ascertained by examinations required by law, as in the case of physicians. But an official oath has always been required for admission to the practice of the law. What is its significance and what obligation does it impose? See: Benton, Josiah Henry, Lawyer’s Official Oath and Office (Boston Book Company, 1909).
The significance of the lawyer’s oath is that it stamps the lawyer as an officer of the State, with rights, powers and duties as important as those of the Judges of the Courts themselves. When a lawyer is admitted to practice and takes the required oath of office he has as much right to discharge the duties of his office as a representative or senator has to sit and act in the Legislature, or a Governor to exercise the functions of a chief magistrate. He has as much right to appear in Court and be heard for a party to a cause as a Judge has to hear and decide the cause. A lawyer is not the servant of the Court. He is an officer of the Court, with all the rights and responsibilities which the character of his office gives and imposes. He is also an officer for life whose office cannot be taken from him except for cause established by due process of law upon proof, hearing and judicial determination. Id.
As I mentioned before, my father is an attorney – and he is the most honest and noble person I have ever met. I am proud to be counted among a profession of men like him. Of course, I know that there are some within the profession that do not live up to such a standard, but it is my commitment and desire to exercise my office as an attorney with integrity and honesty.
To anyone who may be reading this, I want to say that I look forward to helping you with any legal matter. I am trustworthy, hardworking, dependable, and prepared. I sincerely look forward to proving that much to you.