Recently, I was sitting in my office and happened to glance up at my law license which reads “Attorney and Counselor at Law”. I paused for a minute and realized that I had never given much thought to the “Counselor” aspect of my practice.
After doing some research, I realize that this is an important part of our profession. The public views attorneys as warriors. Law school teaches us to be that way, and courtroom fights are glorified on television, publicized, and often sensationalized.
The role of attorney as counselor begins when a client comes to the office to discuss what their legal problem is and rely on the attorney to seek a solution. Attorneys need to be good listeners and gather the necessary information to help the client achieve their goals. This initial meeting is an opportunity for the client to tell their story to an independent professional who actually cares (or should care) about their legal problem. The attorney’s expertise and insight is critical to help the client make an informed decision. After listening, the attorney can discuss options with the client sometimes, these options may not include litigation but other solutions that may be quicker and cheaper.
Even if litigation occurs, the attorney’s role as counselor continues in the form of guiding the client through the complex legal process, discussing settlement options, and minimizing costs.
When attorneys act as counselors, it makes the legal system and, therefore society better. Attorneys should not underestimate the privilege to serve society in this capacity.