I was thinking about this lately… if Warner & Zimmerle, or I personally had a motto as a lawyer… it would be:
Don’t be a stereotype.
It harkens back to Google’s motto – “don’t be evil“
Basically the point is not to do what bad lawyers do. Not to be who the public often thinks we are.
For some examples:
1. Be honest. Be honest with clients, juries, media, everyone. When you hide the truth or stretch the truth, it makes you a stereotype.
2. Be humble. Often times the lawyers who are always shouting in commercials or on the internet about how great they are – aren’t that great. Be confident and proud to share successes, but don’t be a stereotype.
3. No frivolous cases. Don’t file a case without a really good basis for it. Hire expert witnesses who will give you the truth – not what you want to hear. Good lawyers don’t like frivolous cases – they get in the way of good cases, make it harder for good cases to get to trial, and poison the public’s opinion on the justice system in general. The same should go for defense attorneys. No frivolous defenses. Unfortunately, we see a lot of dumb defenses with no basis in fact. Don’t be that person.
4. Give back to the community. This should go without saying.
I think this would be a good start for all lawyers. Greed, competition, fear and other emotions can sometimes jump in and cloud a good lawyer’s judgment. In those times, come back to this and remember who you want to be – and who you don’t.
(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury lawyer from the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois. He can be reached at hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com or 309-794-1660).