Does anyone out there enjoy writing a check to an attorney? Probably not. Although attorneys have a reputation for being expensive, they don’t have a general reputation for being the world’s favorite people (cue the lawyer jokes). But we don’t live in a perfect society, so when things don’t always go according to plan, you want to have a great lawyer to back you up.
In this post, I want to share the qualities that make an attorney valuable—not just to a client, but also to society.
A great lawyer not only understands the law, but also the relationships that influence the law and that are affected by it. Think simply of the situation of a contract between two friends trying to start a business—putting the new relationship in writing ensures that the two friends enter into a business relationship with open and honest expectations up front, so that everyone was clear from the start on what they understood. Here, a great attorney does not drive a wedge into a relationship of trust; instead, a great attorney manages the interaction out of respect for the relationship between the friends.
A valuable lawyer does more than just get the deal done—the great great lawyer will help educate you on what terms need to be more reasonable, what should be considered a priority, what’s not worth fighting for, and help you maintain your relationships.
Looking Out for Each Other
You might think that since many lawyers are ambitious and competitive, they don’t like helping other lawyers. Another characteristic of a valuable lawyers is that he or she is willing to take care of their fellow lawyer.
For example, during Hurricane Irma, two attorney families, each with infants, sought refuge from the hurricane and needed housing in Atlanta for a week. A call for assistance was made through local bar associations, including the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA). An outpouring of generosity came from the GAPABA family to those in need, and two lawyers in Atlanta agreed to host lawyers in need.
Valuable attorneys always find a way to help their colleagues: by volunteering, mentoring, or simply being there when help is needed.
Advancing the Rule of Law
As any lawyer would surely tell you—the law is complex. As society advances, the law must evolve accordingly. Great lawyers stay a couple of steps ahead, and can anticipate the changes needed. Valuable lawyers will not only anticipate the changes, but also advance the rule of law and elevate the playing field.
This is made possible by the fact that in law school, lawyers are trained to be issue spotters. The ability to spot an issue—whether In business, relationships, or disagreements—is the first step to creating the solution to fix it.