Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lawyers as Problem Solvers

A couple of years ago, before I started law school, I worked at my dad’s firm. He does a lot of contract drafting for commercial developments, and his partner does construction litigation. As I spoke to my dad’s partner one afternoon, he clarified the difference between those two fields of law in a way that stuck with me. He said, “your dad prevents problems, and I clean up problems.” My dad, who happened to be in the vicinity, responded by saying, “many attorneys forget that we are not here to create problems, but to resolve them.” As a clerk at a family law firm this summer, I realized that those words are not only applicable to any field of law, but they are also important to remember as we work with clients that are passing through very difficult experiences.


Today I received an email with a link to a talk by James E. Faust, which was posted on YouTube by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. The video, entitled “Lawyers as Healers,” discusses the duties we, as attorneys (or future attorneys), have to society, and how we can best fulfills those duties. President Faust counsels, “you need to be more than skilled advocates, you need to be decent human beings trying to solve problems.” Of course, this is counsel that is applicable to all attorneys, and not just those of the LDS faith.


As I watched the video I was reminded of a talk by Boyd K. Packer that I read during my 1L year. In that talk President Packer declares, “The Lord needs you who are trained in the law. You can do for this people what others cannot do . . . You have, or should have, the spirit of discernment. It was given you when you had conferred upon you the gift of the Holy Ghost.” This counsel is both humbling and ennobling. Although President Faust’s words are applicable to all attorneys, President Packer notes that there is an added responsibility for lawyers within the church. If we live up to that responsibility by trying our best to resolve problems, we can bring peace to the lives of our clients and fulfillment to our own lives.