The license to practice law granted by the Commonwealth of Virginia authorizes successful applicants to be an Attorney and Counselor at Law. This is for good reason. The roles of advocate and advisor are both important to being an effective lawyer. If a client is not properly and thoroughly advised about the law, the options, and the practical and economic effects that contemplated actions may create, it is difficult for a lawyer to advocate on the
I believe that the Counselor duties of the law practice must come first. As a result, the first thing I do when I meet with a client is listen. I listen to the
client's problem, his story, his concerns, and I usually then ask what he wants the result of my service to be. If the goal is realistic and achievable, we may go forward.
I always try to advise clients not only about the law and their legal options, but also as to the practical effects of going forward with their lawsuit or other legal matter. A cost/benefit analysis is always part of the discussion. If I believe that the client will be worse off than before he sought my advice if a particular course of action is taken, I not only advise against it, but usually will not take such action. If before I start representation, it is clear that my fees will be more than the client=s possible actual recovery, I will not take that case. If a client says, "I know I might lose money, but
it's the principle....", my internal alarms go off, and a referral is likely (unless, perhaps, I know the client "has more money than they know what to do with").
This is not to say that once a client is fully advised and aware of his options, and we may disagree as to alternative paths, that I
wouldn't follow the wishes of my client. The claim or case is the
client's. I advise, the client chooses, and then I advocate on the
client's behalf. The client is the boss. I am here to serve.