Good Morning and welcome to my second blog.
It has been a unique week. This time seven days ago I was preparing for my last day practising as a solicitor; at least for now. 30 years 296 days at the same place of work. Time to move on, time to learn, time to change and, perhaps above all, time to reflect.
Of course, although not practising law, I am still a solicitor.
Several years ago some friends brought a piece of paper they had been given back from Miami. It contained a list of tips for the holiday maker visiting the American resorts. Now, lawyers over there are called attorneys and it would seem that the list contained a warning, not regarding attorneys, but referencing the time-share sellers pestering the tourists with unsolicited approaches and intimidating sales pitches. It simply said,
“Beware of Solicitors”.
I wonder how many people in the UK would, with a wry smile, say “Amen”?
The legal profession, is one to which I am not emotionally wed. I would like to say that I loved my profession, respected it and admired it unconditionally. I do not. One of the most sickening spectacles you will ever witness is the sight and sound of two lawyers in court, with their costs draftsman, arguing over how much their fees should be.
Ultimately though a legal services provider is a people business. Its assets, as a business, are its staff and its masters, as an advisor, are its clients. It is by people who it is paid and by people it is judged.
Many years ago I was representing a suspect about to take part in an identification parade. It took the Police Inspector responsible for organising the parade a good deal of time to arrange it and to get the other participants in the parade to look and be dressed similar to the accused.
It was a difficult one and it each stage the Inspector asked me and my client whether we were happy with all the arrangements. We were. He then said something to me that I remembered for the rest of my career and which I have passed on to many younger colleagues.
He said, “One day I may have to give evidence in court about this and be cross-examined by a defence barrister. I want to be able to say I did my honest best.”
Sometimes we may fall short of others expectations. Sometimes we may be mis-judged or misunderstood. On occasions we may get it wrong. Sometimes we will fail.
If, however, when we stand to be judged in front of our peers, our employer, our regulator or, for those who believe, our maker, if we can say we did our honest best we will be fine.
Every day I salute that Police Inspector. He has no idea how much of an influence on me and others he has been.