Lawyers, like other professionals, talk about "good clients.". Usually, the lawyer means a good client is someone who follows the lawyer's instructions. It's nice to be listened to and respected, but that is not what makes a client "good."
I have had so many "good clients" in the last 28 years. My definition of what makes a client "good" is much more expansive. The good clients whom I have represented (which comprise the bulk of the clients I have represented) may be scared, inarticulate, with a mind of their own. They may not be perfect on the witness stand, they may have traits I have difficulty with, and, yes, at times they may disagree with me. Those characteristics don't negate a client's value. In fact, I represent Whistleblowers who, by nature, buck the status quo. I like that quality that makes some of my clients turn into rebels most of the time.
Here are some of the qualities that I look for, and find, in prospective clients:
1. A desire for justice, not revenge.
At times my clients are so angry that, at first, they want revenge. However, most of the time they can distinguish between justice and vengeance. Those seeking vengeance are rarely satisfied. They must let go and seek justice.
2. The courage to go forward.
I have represented so any courageous people and I am humbled by the association.
3. Compassion for others, whether it be others whom they want to prevent from experiencing the pain, disrespect, and humiliation or family members they want to protect.
4. The insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
No one respects someone who claims he or she is always right and will not admit to making mistakes or having faults.
I have learned much from the wonderful people I have represented. Rarely do my clients ask me how much their case is worth. They care about the justice of the situation and making a difference. They hope when they get paid, that they have made a difference and that the money paid to them will prevent someone else from being hurt.
It is not easy to be a whistleblower or to complain about unlawful discrimination. I am blessed because I gain so much from the brave souls who I represent. I realize that I have rarely thanked them for teaching me how to act with dignity through true adversity.
To them, I say, "Thank you. You're the best."