This morning as I was getting ready for work, I found myself contorted into a pretzel trying to zip up a maddening zipper on the back of my dress. Why on earth would anyone put a zipper on the back of a dress? Pure conjecture, but I was guessing
that this asinine design is left over from the days when women had ladies in waiting, always at the ready to help them button or tie up a piece of clothing.
(Sure enough – a quick search on the internet confirmed my suspicion: “In earlier centuries, buttons found on the back of a dress as opposed to the front were originally intended to give the appearance of wealth in a woman, as wearing such a garment implied the woman could afford servants to help her dress.”)
This got me to thinking about what I am sure is every clients’ frustration with going to a lawyer. Why should it be necessary to hire a really expensive lawyer to handle something that they should be able to zip up themselves?
Well, much like the zipper on my dress, the legal system has evolved out of complex structures, relationships and systems. Just because our lawyers don’t wear those silly white wigs anymore doesn’t mean that the legacy of hundreds of years of operating within a complex legal systems has made it any more user friendly. Lawyers are educated and trained to navigate that complex system. Much the same way that doctors are educated and trained to navigate the complex systems of the human body.
There are some things that I encourage my clients to handle on their own (and spend the money they would spend on me buying a dress that zips up the side). These are things like trying to work out a dispute before it escalates, or discussing and outlining the terms of the deal they would like to see come to fruition. And then there are some things that I advise that my clients do ask for help on.
As an attorney I think it is important, and my duty, to be honest with my clients about what I think they can handle on their own and where I think they may need assistance navigating a complex legal structure. I love having that conversation with my clients. It gives me an opportunity to hear what their goals are and how they want to get there. Feeling empowered to make things happen in your business and personal life is energizing, but if someone is struggling with the darn back zipper, I gladly offer a helping hand.