Vail Daily column: Help on the way
Some days, when the fires of conflict rage around me and I reach my psychological limit trying to suppress the conflagrations, I picture myself in a different career.
Knowing my destiny, I do not seriously entertain the thoughts, but they are useful as a coping mechanism. There are the dreams of little boys: the race car driver or the cowboy or the fireman. Adolescent musings about pro skier or guitar god or street artist flit through my mindspace. Nevermind that I lack either the talent or the constitution for any of those endeavors; they are an interesting break from reality.
The most oft-recurring, and eminently more attainable, consideration posits me as a third-grade teacher. My teacher friends may chuckle at this, particularly given that surrounding oneself with schoolchildren is no way to avoid disputes. Regardless, I often envy the purity of teacher’s motivations. In the legal profession, there is a real dichotomy between those that practice for altruistic reasons and those that simply want to amass capital. In contradistinction, no sane person goes into teaching for the money: teachers are called to the classroom because they want to help.
The law is a service business. Ostensibly, lawyers exist to assist clients in navigating the vagaries of a convoluted system. The term “counselor” is meant to be taken literally: attorneys are to counsel their clients as to the various risks, benefits and costs of a given course of action.
Ideally, this is done in concert with the omnipresent Golden Rule: the advice rendered should be the same advice that the lawyer himself would want to receive. Theoretically, then, the paths of teachers and lawyers are congruent.
A fine idea in theory, but, like communism, the practical effects are considerably different. Attorneys’ actions can be seriously skewed by the tantalizing incentives of the almighty dollar.
This is especially true when the attorney in question became a lawyer because he was seduced by the promise of fine suits, mahogany desks and late-model European sports cars. But even for those who are not merely mercenaries, the struggle to reconcile the client’s best interests with the lawyer’s can be considerable.
Sailing seas of emotion
Clients come into my office looking for blood. They are so predisposed toward starting or defending a lawsuit that a mere nod of the head from me is all that would be necessary for the clock to start running and the funds to begin funneling into the firm’s bank account.
It is easy for clients to sail the seas of emotion right into a giant whirlpool of expense, stress and other physical and mental torments. But it is my job to be dispassionate, to sift through the client’s version of events to begin to formulate an idea of how to proceed forward.
Follow the righteous path
Sometimes, the client’s inclination is right and the only choice is to engage in litigation. Very often, though, there exist a range of options that are much better suited to the client’s long-term financial and psychological success.
These alternatives, being more sensible and less time-consuming than a lawsuit, do not result in great monetary gain for the lawyer.
But, presenting them, and then encouraging the client to follow the righteous path is quite plainly the right thing to do. To be the voice of reason is the help that the client does not even realize he/she needs.
Kids come first
Teachers, or at least the ones that I know and have known, are similarly unconcerned with their own welfare. Children, being mercurial, can be alternately sweet and savage. But, regardless of the classroom’s prevailing mood, it is always the kids who come first, often at the direct expense of the teacher’s sanity, health or at least patience.
Despite the recent bump in salaries in Eagle County (yay local voters!), it is the teacher’s instinct to nurture, and not the paycheck, that truly sustains her/him. Looking at it from the legal perch, this motivation is both instructive and inspirational.
Position of trust
Helping the client must be the guiding force for a lawyer. This seems painfully obvious to me, but I constantly watch other attorneys subsume their client’s interests to their own egos or greed (or both).
Worse still, these lawyers are such skilled orators and persuaders that they have convinced their client that the path that the lawyer directs is the correct one for the client.
This sales pitch is even easier because attorneys occupy a position of trust and supposed expertise. To be hoodwinked by someone that is supposed to be your savior is an outcome so unconscionable that it again has me dreaming of driving at Le Mans.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner-mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.