The Confessional: Opportunity in Client/Attorney Confidentiality

As every practicing lawyer can attest, there is a sort of confessional experience between themselves and their clients. The moments when a client finally feels safe to divulge various evidence, facts or inferences of a case, that may or may not be relevant to the attorney under the guise of practical (though in some specific instances not so) absolute confidentiality. The relief of the client is enormous and the burden of action, advise and resolution shifts to the attorney.

We can wonder how priests feel when they are similarily poised with information in the rawest uncontroverted nature because the confessor understands or believes that in almost all instances such information cannot be used against them, instead will be used to create a penance plan of action to absolve the person of their sins.

Can lawyers similarily create a penance plan for their clients? A plan of action that will clear out the potential karmic onlslaught from malicious, underhanded behavior or at the least mis-intended direction of short sighted business decisions or poor personal life planning for their clients? Or in the case of the client that constantly attracts problems by virtue of their internal receptors, can the attorney present alternative ways of clearing the conflict orientated habits?

Here are three suggestions that we as attorneys, and the clients who are represented, can take the confidentiality privilege between them to the self created opportunity for healing, transformation and higher evolution from 'problem' experiences into lasting resolutions; harnassing the utility of attorneys as 'peace advisors', to promote a more fair, responsible society.

1) Encourage your client to want to learn from mistakes past. Attorneys are in a position, due to the inherently flawed system of the billable hour, to encourage conflict (because afterall law practice is a business, a business where profit must exist in order to keep the shingle up), or encourage their clients to come to a lasting solution to learning from behavior, situations and non action where conflicts linger.  The latter of encouragement creates more fruits for the law practice business model and attracts more solution orientated results for the clients. Happy clients are repeat clients.

2) Offer you client a plan of action to transform the problems into opportunities in their lives and business. How often do you as an attorney offer services to remedy residual conflicts? Whether its in a traditional mediation form, or in an actual planning session whereby you assist your client in developing a new automated responses to conflict, new proactive approaches to usual conflicting areas, and new ideas of how to push forward good works (as a form of penance- where marketing and other value can be derived).

3) Be the example you would like your client to follow. "Do as I say not as I do" for mothers, lawyers and politicians really doesn't serve anyone. As attorneys we have an opportunity to be leaders, to shape decisions and strategies, and ultimately to set standards for behavior.  We also have to constantly be in a state of learning, transforming and developing ourselves in order to be the best advisors for our clients and the best examples of peace making/conflict aversion in our own lives.

Caitlin Hayes is a licensed attorney in the Great State of New York,, and also coaches and encourages attorneys to find more purpose in their law pracitce, She believes attorneys, well suited to be antagonists, can transform their practice to become instruments of peace and conflict resolution from family matters to corporate governance and every practice area in between. 

There are no warranties herein, and any inferred or direct advertising for the practice of law are governed by NY Rules. 


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