In a few days a new year, indeed a new decade, shall begin.
The last decade sure was grand. Or at least the first nine years of it were. Let’s hope the decade to come is even better.
In that spirit, let me wish all our readers a brilliant new decade filled every day with the most sinful, corrupt, unregenerate and wanton clients imaginable (assuming they are wealthy, of course).
“Surely, you jest,” you say? Surely, I do not. These are the best clients you can hope for during the decade to come.
“Why?” you ask. There are many reasons. First, you’ll never lose a night’s sleep worrying about whether you’ve done enough for clients like that. Second, they will give you the most entertaining stories to tell at cocktail parties.
And third, contrary to what lawyer Fred Gailey says in “Miracle on 34th Street,” representing the unrighteous is where the real fun is when it comes to practicing law.
Suppose you have a client who has been sorely abused. You represent him well, prevail on the merits and he is satisfied with your work. But he paid you a lot of money just to get back what was rightfully his from the beginning. And since the State of Wisconsin still clings to the American Rule regarding the recovery of attorney fees, he can never be made whole.
What kind of recommendation will that client give to his colleagues? He’ll say, “Yes, he’s a fine attorney. Cost me a fortune, though.”
Now suppose that a client with no more moral scruples than I have hires you. He is a wicked man, and if the case goes to trial on the merits, his goose is as cooked as the Cratchits’ dinner in “A Christmas Carol.”
So, what do you do? You hunt for any procedural technicalities you can.
Let’s face it: When the facts are on his side, any attorney can make and prove allegations of “gross malfeasance, dereliction of duty [and] misappropriation of funds,” as if he were Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
But it takes a real litigator to bark out, “Improper service! Statute of limitations! Failure to comply with local rule 56.1(d)!” and avert a hearing on the substantive issues via such procedural machinations.
What do you suppose your client in that case tells his colleagues? “Best damn attorney in the valley!”
Every client expects his attorney to win when he is in the right. But when he is in the wrong – and his attorney wins on a procedural technicality – then he gives his attorney the respect he deserves. And he gives glowing recommendations to others.
And that is why I wish you all a happy new decade chock full of clients even more amoral than I am.