March 23, 2020
Let the Coronavirus Teach Us to Be Better Lawyers for Our Clients
By Kurt B. Fliegauf
This past week, as our daily lives were upended, many of us experienced a sense of unbalance and worry. It occurred to me that these are similar feelings many of our clients experience when they face a legal issue.
Coronavirus makes us realize we crave certainty. We initially wanted to know whether this invisible risk truly was a threat. When we realized it was, we wanted to know how to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We still want to know how long this will last and how much it will cost. These are all questions many of our clients ask when they find themselves in a confusing and stressful legal world. It is our job as lawyers to minimize our clients’ risks to the greatest extent possible, and to explain what risks remain so our clients can make thoughtful decisions with our guidance.
Coronavirus makes us crave technical expertise. We look to doctors and nurses to protect and heal us. We look to researchers to understand the threat and develop a vaccine. We hope and trust that their training and experience will get us out of a situation that we cannot resolve by ourselves. Our clients come to us seeking a similar technical competence. It is our job as lawyers to continue to educate ourselves, to learn from every legal matter we handle, and to become the most competent lawyers we can be to help our clients in times of stress.
Coronavirus makes us crave competent leadership. We look to government to see the problem for what it is, and to respond promptly and intelligently with a plan to fix it. When that leadership is lacking, we become fearful and angry. When that leadership is provided, we feel more protected and secure. Our clients come to us looking for that sense of protection and security. It is our jobs as lawyers to lead our clients through what, to them, is a significant moment in their lives.
I plan to use the unease I have felt this past week as a learning experience. I will work even harder to provide my clients with as much certainty as I can, in inherently uncertain legal circumstances. I will continue to develop my skills to competently serve my clients. I will be more empathetic, and lead my clients through worrisome times. Let’s use this experience for something positive.