I love talking to other attorneys about cases, strategies, unique situations they’ve been dealing with and just about anything else. The biggest mistake you can make as a lawyer is to assume that you know everything and can’t learn something from others.  I’ve seen a lot of good firms fall apart because they were run by a know it all.

While I know I don’t know everything, I’m also smart enough to have my core values and not change them because someone behaves in a different manner than I do and is successful.  I take a long term approach to everything I do whether that’s making sure to tell you to focus on your health over a quick buck or turning down a potential client who I just don’t get a good vibe with in the beginning (e.g. if you are telling me how you want to kill the insurance adjuster, we probably won’t get along).

Recently I was talking with a Chicago car accident attorney and he said he was having one of those days where it seemed that every client was telling him one story, but the truth was something else and showed that they don’t have a case.  He and I both agree that cases work best when a lawyer is 100% honest and direct with a client and the client is 100% honest and direct with us.  It’s OK if your claim has some flaws, but if you lie to us hoping we won’t find out about it, it’s a problem.

In one of his cases, a client had told him that another car had turned in front of him causing an accident.  Turns out that the client was the one at fault and he cut off the other driver. “Never trust a client” he told me, going on to say that it’s rule #1 and #2 in his office.  It wasn’t said in a joking manner either.

While we both can’t work with someone we catch lying to us, I would never operate under the assumption that I can’t trust my clients and callers. It’s my job or any other lawyer’s job to ask you the right questions.  If you tell me that you were hit by a forklift at work, I’m not going to need to see a video tape of your accident or interview five witnesses in order to believe you.  I feel that most people are good and if I tell you up front to be 100% truthful with me, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt every time.

It would be exhausting to not trust anyone I talk to and it’s not how I want to live my life or run my law firm.  Maybe it’s different for other areas of law; I don’t know as we are focused on Illinois workers’ compensation claims.  I’ll still network with other lawyers and pick their brains.  But I’ll never choose a path that doesn’t make sense for me or anyone who calls me.

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