When to Shut Up

SATURDAY, MAY 1, 2010

Often during a client consultation or conference, I am aware that my client is under so much stress and in so much pain that, although my mouth is moving and my words are emitting forth, my client is not hearing a word I am saying. This is a good time for me to remember to stop talking and start listening. (This is also a good time for a client to have confidence in their attorney's ability to do what is right and fair in the long term.) But once I realize it's time to stop talking and start listening, I have been amazed how clients often have the best ideas on how to proceed in their case or how to settle certain matters. I have seen it before, how interesting facts or ideas can suddenly emerge from the client in ways that were not asked or intended. Solutions are tricky and elusive and can occur when you become more aware of listening instead of talking. So, if you don't have any idea what's going on, and why, consider turning your seemingly irrelevant thoughts into specific questions. I do think it's o.k. to ask your attorney to shut up occassionally and just listen. You do have the best ideas.