Whatwas the biggest mistake thatyou used tomake as a lawyer?

The biggest mistake that I made as a lawyer is simple: failing to be a friend to my clients first, before focusing on their legal matters as their lawyer.

An example: Client "Y" is terminally ill with cancer and his health is rapidly deteriorating to the point that he cannot take care of his own needs.  When I visited Client "Y" armed with release authorizations and a retainer agreement, I was focused on the legal matters at hand without appreciating the human element--namely, that Client "Y" just wanted a friend to listen to his concerns.  Instead of talking about his legal case, Client "Y" really wanted someone to listen about his concerns, such as the financial well-being of his wife and children and ensuring that they have everything they need once he's gone.

The best question I can ask our clients, "Is there anything I can do for you?" Trying to connect with your clients and making sure they know that they have a friend first, and then a lawyer, is crucial and often overlooked by young, inexperienced lawyers. I learned this lesson through my past mistakes.

How do I begin this process of friendship and trust with our clients? I begin by meeting with our clients in their homes. The best way to learn about our clients' troubles and concerns is by visiting their home. Home visits provide invaluable information, such as our clients' inability to go up and down stairs, get in and out of the bathroom and sometimes things as simple as answering the telephone when no one else is at home. Friendship and trust develops with the home visits in a way that an office visit with the client cannot.  I make it a point to visit our clients in their homes as often as possible.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that our clients need a friend first, before a lawyer, and I try to emphasize this motto in my law practice.