By Jedidiah McKeehan
A man went to see a lawyer seeking an answer to a legal problem he was facing.
After listening to the man’s problem, the lawyer, sitting in his office, surrounded by bookshelves filled with row after row of legal books, said, “I will tell you the answer to your problem for $300.00.”
The man, realizing he was about to have to pay this lawyer a large sum of money for less than 5 minutes of work said, “I bet if I looked through all of these books in this office I could find the answer to my problem myself.”
The lawyer simply smiled and said, “Yes, but I know in which book the answer is.”
That is a paraphrased version of a story I heard many years ago describing the practice of law. And it’s true this is how the lawyer-client worked for decades, if not centuries. Lawyers were considered to have mystical abilities (and also be crooks, depending on who you ask). Behind the curtain of secrecy, they had this great insight into the inner workings of the law.
Even when I first became a lawyer in the late 2000s, I was shocked at how little legal help I could find publicly available on the internet. What was so special about lawyers that we had to hide how the law works?
I am grateful to say I do not find this the case anymore. The resources available for the public to educate themselves has expanded exponentially.
Why was this the case? Why was legal information so closely guarded? The easy answer is to think this is related to lawyers’ fear of losing work by people representing themselves.
I get that, but I simply disagree with that position. The best relationships I have with clients is when I inform the clients ahead of time what I will do and why I will do it. I’m not behind a curtain doing things secretly and then, boom! out pops a result that might be good or bad.
I have found that clients appreciate being kept informed and it makes them more willing to work with me because I make them part of the team that gets their case moving in the right direction. If you are considering hiring a lawyer, I would encourage you to find one who allows you to be an informed contributor in your ongoing case.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including divorce, custody, criminal, and personal injury. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.