SHOULD LAWYERS WIN OR GET TO THE TRUTH?
Updated 11 July 2018
“Is a lawyer’s reputation based more on winning than on getting to the truth and finding justice?”
In an ideal world, if you get to the truth there is a fair chance that you will win.
I tended to act for victims rather than perpetrators, so establishing the truth helped to establish that my client was indeed the victim.
I had a number of cases from business people I had previously acted against. They felt I had run rings round their lawyer last time, and for this new case wanted me acting for them.
As an immigration lawyer I was regularly contacted by community leaders and other “introducers”. Someone in their neighbourhood or clan or extended family or acquaintanceship had an immigration problem. The “introducer” was expected to find the best lawyer. That was me.
Two such “introducers” were brothers, one living in Bradford and the other in Leeds. They bumped into each other in my waiting room. They had brought people who were now being seen by me or by my staff. Talking about me, they started to list the deportations and removals they had brought to me. They got to either 33 or 36, and all but one of them I had won.
Clients came to me from Scotland, from London and from Surrey, travelling hundreds of miles for my services. A granny in Lahore insisted that her grandchildren used my firm, and a pub owner in Phuket also referred people to me.
A Sikh Temple from Birmingham came to see my worker who dealt with family cases and priests and imams. She commented they had come a fair way.
The Temple Secretary said
“When we had a problem about immigration for our priest, I rang the nearest Sikh Temple. They said “You have to go to James & Co in Bradford.”
“I thought that was silly, so I rang our sister temple in Wolverhampton. They said “You have to go to James & Co in Bradford”
“So I rang the largest temple in Birmingham. They said “You have to go to James & Co in Bradford”.
“So here we are”
The first lawyer I worked for was very good as a lawyer. In the 3 months I worked for him he twice got acquittals when four police officers said they had seen the Defendant commit the crime.
He had in the past had some really notable victories, including getting a Magistrates Clerk fired and a sergeant busted off the drugs squad.
In the 3 months I worked for him I produced 4 letters he did not tear up in front of me. Every other letter was torn up until I learned to produce the letters he wanted to see.
I vowed I would not speak to him again.
If I was in really deep doodoo I would go to him. But nothing short of that would induce me to speak to him again.
I picked up his perfectionist “go the extra mile for the client” approach. I also transmitted that attitude to my staff.
One of the proudest days in my life was when a 17 year old office junior brought a letter of mine to me and said that in his view I was not going the extra mile for the client. He was right.
I was so proud that the message had sunk in so deep that a 17 year old thought it his duty to put me – the boss – right. And I was the kind of boss who would take it.
Most people just want to get on with their lives. They would rather go to a dentist than a lawyer, because a dentist is cheaper. But they have to use a lawyer.
If it is something straightforward, any lawyer in their town will do, But if it is something odd, or hugely important, they want a specialist. And they will travel.
They would rather travel and pay for a good lawyer than pay almost as much for a mediocre lawyer. And when the stakes are really high they will pay for a wizard.
Would you pay hundreds or thousands of pounds or dollars for a lawyer who was a loser? Of course not.
So the answer to the question is that a reputation for winning is hugely important.