Things are really taking shape.
Since leaving the Hawaii Office of the Public Defender with no safety net and no back-up plan, things have really taken off, and in directions I had not predicted. The recurring issue has always been the office. I find my clients want a lawyer with a physical location. The idea being that, they can always find me. I know I would want the same from my attorney. The first office did not take, for reasons that won’t be told until certain people die. Then we were without an office for about two months, and while we did sign a number of clients, it just didn’t work the same way.
Selling law out of a trunk of a car is some hustle, I tell you. There’s a reason why attorneys bring you into a marble office with their name in giant bronze letters as you sit in a waiting room surrounded by “could-they-be-real” Egyptian artifacts. All these are signs of wealth and Americans equate wealth with success. Don’t believe me? Look at Mitt Romney, his entire presidential run is built on it. “I was successful in business, and can be successful for you”. The more wealthy an attorney is, the more successful he must be, right?
And it’s an interesting balance, because when you’re shopping for an attorney you’re shopping for someone who you want to “sell” for you. Don’t misunderstand, to say trial law is sales is the understatement of the century, but to say it is not is a lie. I get engaged to convince 12 jurors, or one judge, that my point is either more legal, more reasonable, or more honorable than the other side, generally in that order of preference. If I can’t do that, I haven’t done my job. And you want an attorney who uses everything in their power to convince the deciders of the righteousness of your cause.
Even “could-they-be-real” Egyptian Artifacts.
So when you see an Attorney is a silk shirt or a freshly pressed suit or a tie that match the shoes, understand what they’re doing, they’re “selling”. But there’s a difference between polish and precious. No matter how much polish is on a turd, it never becomes precious. And an attorney with ability will always rise above an attorney that is all show. And an attorney with ability can always make the other attorney’s new suit look like the Emperor’s New Clothes.
But we don’t have that problem anymore. Everyday I arrive at the reserved parking on Bishop st., and take the elevator to the top floor. I unlock the inch thick steel doors, pull the cover off the Steinway and tinkle a few notes. I walk back to my personal office, throw my bag in the director’s chair and look out lovingly out on the city, inhaling deep before I start a hectic day of rushing to court, answering phones and consoling families.
And between doing all this I realized the most important lesson of all for an attorney. While a proficient attorney can beat a polished attorney any day. A proficient attorney who is well polished, that’s the most precious of all.