Mak is very anxious. He has just been charged with a criminal offence. He has never been in this situation before. He got caught having sex in his car with a prostitute and was charged with committing an “indecent act”. Mak met with a lawyer. The lawyer asked Mak to explain what happened during the incident. After listening for a few minutes the lawyer said, “Relax, Mak. Ive dealt with these cases hundreds of times before. Were gonna take this thing to trial and beat it. Everything will be fine.” Mak hired the lawyer because his anxiety prevented him from putting off this decision any further. But he left the lawyers office feeling unsettled and not much better than when he came in. Naturally, Mak would prefer not to get a criminal record but he has other concerns and wonders how he will handle them.
Has this lawyer served his client? No. This lawyer is merely dealing with the case. Whats the difference? Its much like the doctor who treats the illness rather than treating the patient. Each client presents him or herself with a unique set of circumstances. Therefore, each client requires a unique approach tailored to his or her problem to effectively meet his or her needs. What this means is that sometimes a “simple case” requires a complex or delicate approach and sometimes a seemingly complicated and involved case may be simply solved for a client.
Mak is a self-employed electrician and is married. His wifes best friend is a Spanish interpreter and works in the courts. A criminal conviction wouldnt affect his life in any meaningful way since he works for himself. Hes sure that no one he cares about would ever find out about it. Mak doesnt want to face a trial because he is worried his wife will find out that he was involved with a prostitute. His other concern is about going to court. Hes afraid that he will run into his wifes best friend and that she will tell his wife. Maks main priority is to have the matter be dealt with discretely so that his wife doesnt find out. He would prefer to deal with the matter quickly and quietly.
Maks lawyer assumes that Mak just wants to beat the charge. Although his lawyer may eventually get the charged dismissed, he may not be acting in his clients best interests. In other words, he is not serving his client.
The facts of a case are certainly important. A lawyer must seek out all relevant and helpful facts and know them inside out. He must also be well versed in the applicable law. This allows him to paint an accurate picture for his client. The client, in turn, is then able to make the best decision in the circumstances. The facts, however, are only part of the picture. The lawyer must know his client.
How does a lawyer get to know his client? He starts by listening. A good lawyer is a good listener. He must listen to what his client is trying to tell him. Secondly, he must ask the right questions. This starts with a thorough interview of the client. The lawyer should obtain details about his clients family background, living arrangements, immigration status, marital status, employment history, asset and income details, educational background, previous criminal background, and frequency and necessity of international travel. This approach will accomplish three things. It will let the client know that who he or she is is important to the lawyer. It will provide the lawyer with valuable background information about the client. It will encourage open and frank dialogue about the clients needs and concerns. In this way, the lawyer, with the help of with his client, will be able to create an effective solution.
Mak proceeded to trial and was eventually acquitted. His lawyer chalked this up as a win. However, Maks wife found out about his indiscretion and left him. Maks life fell apart. Had his lawyer spent some time and focused on Mak rather than just the facts of his case, Maks story could have had a happy ending.