Greetings, The Friday Whine is a casual email to friends and colleagues and contains three things: An ethics update, a legal profession update, and wine recommendation. If you see text in blue, it is a link to an article or information.
Who’s The Client?
This is usually a basic question, but when issues of attorney client privilege come in to play, it’s sometimes difficult. Is your client the CEO, the company, the insurance company, the President of The United States?
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States, is unclear as to who is his client, but I’m here to help him.
It’s not the President, usually.
“The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested.”
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ client is the people of the United States of America. Like all the people. Every one of them. He is the chief law enforcement officer in the country. He is representing the rule of law as it applies to the people of the United States.
Sounds ambiguous, but that’s his client.
It’s not Donald Trump, unless Donald Trump is asking for legal advice or legal opinions. General conversations with the President don’t count, and his testimony last week stating that he could not answer questions because he was protecting the President because he may invoke Executive Privilege, is clever, but weak. He’s basically saying that the President may be his client for this purpose, and if he is, he needs to waive the privilege.
But the question is whether the President can establish an attorney client privilege with the Attorney General, and under what circumstances. We already know that Janet Reno testified before Congress to conversations she had with Bill Clinton.
I wish I knew.
We may find out.
The Policy Isn’t Important
One of my “secrets*” (*there are no secrets) to practicing law is that I learn about the business side of running a practice from people who don’t practice law.
Lawyers, or former lawyers who give advice, usually give crappy advice about the business side of the practice. I like to take advice from those who are in different industries. We as lawyers are in customer service, so there’s plenty of those types of businesses around, and many who do things better than law firms.
I also like to spend my vacation time watching how businesses interact with customers. I take these observations and use them in my practice.
Like when I checked in to a hotel this week.
Early check-in was requested. When I arrived with my family, after a long flight, the room wasn’t ready. This happens, and it’s understandable. But it was annoying, as we wanted to clean up, change clothes, and just have a place to rest for a while.
We explained to the hotel that we had requested early check in, had flown a long way and would appreciate any accommodations. The response was not arrogant or rude, but a nice “normal check in is at 3 p.m.”
I know this.
This is the reason early check-in was requested.
I was tired, wanted to change clothes, and wanted to get settled.
I didn’t need to hear the “rules” or the “policy.”
Here’s what I needed to hear:
“We see that you requested early check-in, and we’re sorry that your room is not ready. We have a lesser quality room we can give you (not a chance we would take it) and we see that you came a long way to stay here, so why don’t you go enjoy breakfast (complementary anyway) and unless you want the lesser quality room, we’ll try to get this done as soon as we can. We’ve contacted housekeeping and put this as a priority. If your room is not ready by the end of breakfast, please let us know where you would like to go today and we’ll see if we can assist you with any reservations or tickets. Here’s a few bottles of water, and when you go to dinner tonight, please enjoy a drink on us at the hotel bar before you eat.”
That sounds a lot better than “normal check in is at 3 p.m.”
Clients know, generally, the way things work. They didn’t hire you to hear the rules and the law. They hired you because you said something in the initial consultation that indicated you give a crap about their problem.
When you were initially consulted, you didn’t simply tell them the law and the way the courts work, you told them that you would do everything you could to help them – you gave them the sense that you cared about their issue(s).
Anyone can tell someone the law and the policies. When people have a problem, they are looking for someone who cares about their problem and offers possible solutions. Knowing the law, telling clients the “policies” doesn’t make a client feel like their issue matters. If all you’re going to do is tell your potential and currently clients about “the law” and “policies,” you might as well just give them a book to read.
I Had This For Father’s Day
I went to Finca Torremilanos this week, an outstanding winery in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain.
The good news is you don’t have to go there to try their wines, you can pick up a variety of them at Sunset Corners. I highly recommend this one.
When I say “highly recommend,” I mean if there’s some left, I will probably grab it all when I get back.