Advantage Denton

March 8, 2010

Lawyer “Bedside Manner” Matters

Filed under: Uncategorized — Melissa Denton @ 11:19 am
Melissa Denton

Melissa Denton

I sometimes have to apologize to clients for the lack of compassion exhibited by another lawyer.  “They didn’t teach us bedside manners in law school,” I say.  Since I practice law in the area of family law, the folks I work with are at a most vulnerable moment in their lives and lawyers deal with some of the most delicate parts of the person’s life.  Most clients are relieved to finally be dealing with painful issues that have been getting worse for too long, but they do have to contend with their deep emotions and the unkind things family and former family members do to each other at such transition times.

It is quite true that we lawyers did not have a class entitled “How to be Compassionate toward Clients”.  As I recall, doctors used to not have those classes, either, though I hope that has been remedied.  Many attorneys are very intellectual folk.  We live more in our heads than in our hearts.  Just like for anybody, it is a challenge for attorneys to really understand people who are seeing the world from a vastly different place than us.  Most lawyers feel a great deal of pressure to responsibly handle the legal issues in a client’s case because that is what we are trained for and what we are interested in.  Those messy emotions are often seen as an obstacle to efficiently completing the tasks at hand.  Those messy emotions are very frequently the overwhelmingly most important influence on the client’s satisfaction with the lawyer.

The best thing we lawyers provide is a sense of relief.  When you have hired a lawyer or learned crucial information from one, you have a great burden lifted from your shoulders.  You have access to reliable information, a guide through the scary court system and paperwork, and someone on your side who is responsible to tell you the truth. Progress is made on clearing up an awful mess.

The great relief you feel upon getting a lawyer’s help is seasoned by the large amount of money you pay to get that help and by how that help is rendered.  The relief is utterly spoiled if you come to believe that the lawyer is not performing competently or if the lawyer is actively unkind.  These two problems are found together far more often than you would think.

Lawyers who are insecure or who know that they have made a mistake are more likely to bluster and bully, just like other people do in those circumstances.  The client thought that they were getting real help when they hired a lawyer. Instead, the client finds that they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire with their original problem plus lawyer problems.  Original problems are made worse by committing a lot of money to pay for poor lawyer services.  The client is often vulnerable and the attorney’s power position and bullying prevents the client from self defense.

It is easy to say after the fact that the best way to not have a problem is to avoid it in the first place.  How many of my divorce clients would thank me for that advice? Not many.  With finding a lawyer, though, there are ways to avoid getting a poor quality attorney.  Other places on this web site and prior blog entries here give some information about how to find the right lawyer (and therefore how to avoid the wrong one).  While we try to provide a comprehensive education on this issue to our lawyer finders, it is not something that we could teach members of the general public.  It is also a darned silly skill set to try to learn right at the crisis time when you need to use a lawyer.  You also don’t embark on an extensive course in advanced plumbing while your basement is flooding.

Advantage Denton was created for this reason.  We are glad to help you by finding and evaluating the lawyers who would be right for your needs.  Because we evaluate the information available about the attorney and the needs you have, Advantage Denton lawyer finders do a great job finding the right lawyer.  While you might be lucky and stumble upon the right lawyer, this is too important a decision to leave to chance.

Information about your right attorney is handed to you with the appointment.  Our appointment email provides you with web site links giving information about the lawyer. If you ask your lawyer finder after the fact, they will tell you what the guiding focus was for their search for you, though this focus may have changed during the search depending on information you provide and data found about lawyers.  We can not evaluate “bedside manner” thoroughly, but you will find that the high quality lawyers found by Advantage Denton are far more likely to satisfy your needs than a lawyer selected by someone who is not a professional lawyer finder.

Best wishes to the attorneys who always need to work on having good “bedside manner” and work with messy emotion in clients.  Best wishes to those folks going through the stress of needing a lawyer.  I hope you let us reduce the stress of finding the right lawyer. Have us find the right lawyer for you.

March 1, 2010

Stretching Hurts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Melissa Denton @ 6:23 am

Melissa DentonLately, I ended up out of my comfort zone on three different work projects I was handling, all at the same time.  This stretch hurt,  not in a good way, because it was too many directions at once.  Good stretching is when you grow by branching out where you want to with good support.  Suddenly stretching too far in too many directions, physical or mental, is not a good idea.

One of these tasks, assisting with the remodel loan for my church, was completed last week.  I was blessed that the other professionals and volunteers that I was working with were top notch.  It was stressful only because of the large amount of time it took, the tight deadline, and the large amount of money and importance to my Unitarian Universalist Congregation.  What a relief for it to be finished!  By itself, performing this volunteer work would have been a very good stretch.

The other two stretching tasks are types of cases/litigation that I don’t usually work with.  Both of them have hearings set for this week.  Like my normal family law area of practice, the issues are extremely important to my clients.  In one of the cases, I should have used Advantage Denton’s services to send these folks to a lawyer who handles this rare type of case far more often (and the clients know it, because I told them of my mistake).  The other case is just unusual, but I don’t think that anyone else would be more qualified than me to handle it.

The way I dealt with the stress of these three situations coming to a head all at once was extra exercise.  I have now learned that using an elliptical machine for over an hour a day for five days in a row is not easy on the hips.  Heaven knows what would have given next if I hadn’t taken a couple of days off from that one form of exercise.  In the future, I sure hope that stretching my professional expertise will occur under less stressful circumstances.  It seems odd to me that I handle monumentally important issues for family law clients all the time, but usually don’t find it uncomfortably stressful when it is the type of work I normally perform.  Each client and each case is different and there are no guaranteed results, but work I know and like is a good stretch.

The exciting adventure of hunting for just the right lawyer is also a good stretch.  Advantage Denton lawyer finding presents unique challenges with each person’s needs and wants as we search for and set an appointment with the right lawyer for them.  Like with my church’s financial transaction, we work with fantastic people.  We connect  a client who is often not sure what type/location/experience level of lawyer they need.  Then we evolve a process each time to find and set an appointment with the right lawyer.  It is a win/win situation because the client is much better off for having the appointment made with the right lawyer rather than a wrong one,  and the lawyer is getting a client who is right for them.

One stretch that I quickly backed off from recently was trying to find a lawyer for someone who realistically just could not afford to pay for the legal services that they need.  It is wonderfully challenging to find the right lawyer in type/location/experience but unacceptably difficult for our business model to find a lawyer to agree to be underpaid for services.  It was a much better idea to refund the Advantage Denton client’s money with an apology than to perform this herculean task.  Many, many blessings on the heads of the lawyer bar association and other organizations who attempt this difficult work.

I will complete my other two “stretching” experiences fairly soon and look forward to the positive stretches of always learning more about lawyer finding and working as an attorney and business person.  May you learn as much as I do from my rather painful experience of taking on too much in too many directions at once.  Quickly deciding to not do the impossible was the best decision made during this time.  Next time, not taking the wrong type of case will be a much wiser course of action.  It would also be nice if we could do new stretching work at comfortable intervals, but that is just asking too much.

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