Two Kinds of Family Lawyers: Cheerleaders and Mirrors

I have two distinct groups of friends, colleagues and family members: some are cheerleaders, some are mirrors. There are times when a cheerleader is precisely what I want. A cheerleader will tell me what I want to hear and will support me no matter what course of action I choose. A cheerleader is encouraging, positive, empowering, and – at times – enabling. Ask enough people for advice and you’ll find someone who will tell you precisely what you want to hear.

While cheerleaders are often what I want, mirrors are what I need. A mirror is truthful, candid, pulls no punches, and reflects back at you precisely what you are doing. A mirror is unflinching with the truth. Unfortunately, a mirror can magnify flaws, can cause self doubt, and even insecurity. The negative edge to a mirror’s sword, however, is my responsibility. If I find a mirror unpleasant, that’s on me. Simply put, a mirror is a better friend. A mirror, like a good friend, will never allow you to walk around with spinach in your teeth.

Family lawyers fall into the same categories. There are those among us who support our clients’ actions, no matter what. Some will encourage clients to do whatever it is the client wants to do, no matter what the likely result in court. This type of lawyer usually tells the client what a fantastic case the client has, tells the client everything the client wants to hear, is always positive and optimistic, and nearly always collects retainers on the first meeting. We do not hire that type of lawyer. At Davis Faas Blase, PLLC, we strive always to be mirrors to our clients. If there is bad news to deliver, we try to deliver it before the beginning of the representation so as to make sure our clients’ expectations are reasonable. After all, if we can’t meet someone’s expectations, we do not want that client.

That is not to say that we judge our clients. We don’t. That is not our place. Rather, I think our philosophy is best summed up this way: all lawyers have to wear the black hat to court once in awhile. Our clients aren’t perfect. When we wear the black hat, we are no less straightforward and honest than we are when wearing the white hat. A good lawyer can wear either hat. A good lawyer, however, never, ever, lies to the court about the color of his or her hat.