RTL’s Real Truth About Lawyers # 2: “I need to find the lawyer that makes me ‘feel good’ about my case, right…?”
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions I hear about lawyers is that most clients tend to seek out the attorney that tells them what they most want to hear as opposed to real objective legal advice. This approach actually runs entirely counter to the true value of real legal advice and that’s simply the real truth about lawyers.
What the Client Wants vs What the Client Needs
A lawyer’s stock and trade is his objective and legally informed advice on handling a given client’s situation. This isn’t just based upon his education to do what the client wishes, but more importantly to advise the client when the client’s ‘wishes’ actually run counter to their own interests. This an invaluable resource that a good lawyer provides which is often overlooked by most clients. A lawyer isn’t simply hired to DO; he’s hired precisely to advise on WHAT TO DO.
When Caring Too Much is a Fatal Flaw
Unfortunately, clients by and large find great difficulty in accepting and heeding good advice if it runs counter to their initial preconceptions and will often reject good advice they NEED in lieu of bad advice they WANT. This happens precisely because they usually come to an attorney on issues to which they are already greatly invested emotionally, They have a preconceived idea of how things should go and they are very reluctant to let go of it even if sound advise runs contrary to it.
Your Cost Is Your Lawyer’s Gain
Many unscrupulous lawyers know this emotional weakness in clients and, in fact, prey on it. They know they can make far more money by simply validating a client’s wishes rather than advising against ill conceived litigation that will cost money with little commensurate benefits. The real key point to take away from this, however, is that the money it is COSTING is YOURS, but it’s the same money your LAWYER is MAKING.
Why an ‘Overly Agreeable’ Lawyer is Often a Bad Choice
Perhaps the best advise a good lawyer can give is precisely the advise other lawyers will not and that is that an ‘overly agreeable’ lawyer is more often than not simply misleading a naive client to keep him paying, and that is simply the real truth about lawyers. Intentionally misleading clients runs entirely counter to what a truly good ethical lawyer is supposed to follow. But an unscrupulous lawyer is often willing to sacrifice his client’s own interest if he knows he can make more money by the alternative. He’s “done the unethical math’ and knows he can make more money by simply telling the client what he wants to hear to keep him paying and by potentially stealing such cases from scrupulous lawyers with stronger ethics. It’s highly unethical, and it happens every day.
Why a ‘Disagreeable’ Lawyer is Often Your Best Choice
So the next time you are seeking out good legal advice and four out of five attorneys tell you just what you want to hear to make them money and one tells you the contrary, ask yourself this: Why would a lawyer differ with my opinion to an extent that doesn’t make himself money while others run contrary to garner a fee? More often than not, the attorney to truly heed is the one who is willing to tell you the truth even if it costs him a case that another attorney with less scruples can garner simply by telling you what you want to hear.
What This Ultimately Means to You
So, which do you want in your corner? A lawyer that tells you what you want to hear to inflate his own fee, or one that tells you the truth at the risk of collecting less fees. The first cares only about money; the second actually cares about YOU. Be smart and pay very close attention to the one who had the guts to tell you the truth even if it could potentially keep money out of his own pocket. Such good lawyers are incredibly rare and worth keeping in your corner if you are fortunate enough to find one, and that’s simply the real truth about lawyers.