Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ithaca Cortland Lawyer: What Makes a Guide or Legal Counselor Great?

I just returned from our 2012 summer family vacation or should I say our summer journey. Some of the places we visited I had been before but my children had not. I had been to the Rome in 1989. What made all the difference this time was that I hired a professional guide to show, to explain, and to teach us as we walked along the amazing historical sites of Greece, Turkey, and Italy.

First, professionals are people who are paid to do a service. Amateurs are people who are not paid. What separates the amateur from the professional is far more than money.

What makes someone truly professional is how they accomplish this. Getting from point A to Point B may sound simple and easy but whether the road is bumpy and scary or smooth and pleasant is really in the hands of the guide. An expert makes everything appear to be organized, efficient, and fluid. You glide along and learn without effort.

Our guide was Daniella Hunt. She made the Roman Colosseum and ancient Italy come to life. In the process, She brought us back 2000 years.

What made her a great guide? How did she do this magic act? Why did I walk away from my experience with her guidance feeling confident about what I saw and now understood?

I believe that the qualities that makes Daniella an amazing guide are the same qualities that make a counselor (lawyer/attorney) great at what they do as well.

So what specifically make a guide great?

1. Enthusiam for her work. 

BTW Enthusiam literally means G-d (spirit) within. Daniella is very interested and excited about what she does. She is currently writing a book on the Vatican. So her "explanation" of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo, and Raphael was absolutely amazing. My appreciation for all of it is now far deeper. Knowing the inspiration in back of it has led me to be more inspired as an attorney.

No one has to make Daniella wake up in the morning to study or learn about Roman culture or history. She is on a quest to know as much as she can, and then to place it all within proper context and perspective.

Attorneys that take CLE (continuing legal education) based only upon fulfilling their credit hours for re-licensure are missing out. Life and practice (of any type) can be a grand adventure. Being into what you do is in my mind where it is at. New law, new application of old law, and new perspectives keep everything more interesting and most of all challenging.

2. Using Context, Context, and more Context. 

This was the basis for everything that Daniella taught. She placed everything she said and explained within the "proper" context. This was based upon time, space, social culture, history, and economic issues. How does this all fit into the big picture.

I have found that mastery of any subject means that you can then explain it to anyone in simple terms. She made us discover the paradigms of the coliseum (yes you can spell it different ways). This allowed us to then see everything in a bigger perspective, and feel more comfortable.

Daniella used (broke things down into) phases. These historical phases (Events) which then led to other changes.

This phase explanation can be applied in a legal context. Certain legal events/phases occur within every case. Understanding them at the onset of your case, and the purpose for each phase removes uncertainty. How you will surmount these steps (phases) may lead to a better overall outcome.

Great Guides Cast out FEAR.

Fear is the unknown. Fear is what we cannot and do not understand. Fear comes from what we have no place for in our minds. Fear is the darkness.

In my opinion, Bringing "light" (understanding) to a subject (legal or otherwise) or to an event (an arrest, an injury) is the work of masters. Ignorance is just ignoring a part of something, not seeing the whole. Yet fear and ignorance go hand in hand, they support one another. Where you find one you typically find the other.

3. Using "Piecemeal" and Phases.

Daniella used pictures (pieces/frames) to show us what everything looked like, and what everything meant. This allowed us to ask the right questions which lead us to understanding the bigger picture. In fact as Daniella explained the phases, the RIGHT questions came naturally to us. We were truly getting it (how it all worked), and feeling more confident in the process.

A lawyer/guide who does their job completely will explain each and every part of each stage of the legal process both before they occur and while they occur.

How do they all fit in with your specific issues? Not everyone is the same. Every case has unique challenges to that case or for that person. Sometimes the challenge may be time. Sometimes the challenge may be witnesses. Sometimes the challenge may be with the desires (interests) of a spouse, girlfriend, parent, or other family member?

Phases In the Criminal Case: Arrest, Arraignment, Discovery, Pretrial Conferences, Hearings, Motions to Challenge, Trial, Plea, and/or Sentencing.

Phases In the Civil (Injury) Case: Accident (event), Injury, Damages, Discovery, Demand, Filing Lawsuit, Motions, Hearings, Pretrial Conferences, Trial, Settlement, and/or Negotiations.

NOTE: I can usually tell when a client is getting it (understanding everything going on) by the questions they are asking me. Most people can get it if given the right information properly.

Ultimately, I feel my job as a legal counselor is to guide my client, to protect my client, and to lay out the safest road possible for my client to travel on.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law
504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850