Why do we make the practice of law so complex? The practice of law is really very simple. Put the clients’ interest above your own interest. That’s right. Put your client first.
Every time you come to a crossroad in the handling of a client matter, actively ask yourself the question "what’s in the best interest of my client here?" see if the answer comes out different if you ask yourself "how is my own interest best served here?" Once you identify in an objective way the answer to these two questions, put your clients’ interest first, head of your own.
It’s really a simple exercise. But I think it’s an exercise that most lawyers never think about. Lawyers can get wrapped up in their own world so easily. You have to think of your partners, the associates, the secretaries, your family, the formula, your future, the past, etc. I don’t think lawyers realize the sheer number of factors which influence the decisions they make each day. I am certain that lawyers don’t realize how many of these factors fall squarely on their side of the fence, often to the detriment of their client.
So try this simple exercise throughout the day and see how it impacts the decisions that you make. See if you find yourself going in a different direction than you have first anticipated. Putting your client first doesn’t mean that you represent the jerk client, the client that won’t pay, and the client that wants you to answer the phone in the middle of the night or similar ilk. It should mean that you analyze your client’s interest independent from your own as you work your way through the client matter. Try it. See what happens.