This made-up holiday was last week, and I just heard about it this year. But it certainly has me thinking. With the job that I do, it is common to get some abuse from clients. .I am helping people through touch situations, and due to the stress of the issue, an unexpected setback, or just because they are having a bad day, I catch a lot of shit from people, most often undeserved. It’s part of the job, and I understand that things get to people and they act in ways that are not their best. Most of the time I shrug it off, and cut people some slack. A lot of clients will realize they acted boorishly, and will apologize for their behavior, which is classy and helps the relationship going forward. Even if they don’t, most of the time it just blows over. Fine.
But i’ve had a couple of run-ins recently that have tried my patience. The first is a client who is dealing with a lot of stressful, frustrating child custody issues. This person’s ex is pro se, which sucks, because there isn’t an attorney telling them that their claims and actions are bullshit, and judges let pro se parties get away with a lot of crap in hearings that represented persons cannot. At the last hearing, the ex went on about a ton of irrelevant crap (and hearsay), which was not germane to the reason we were there. I addressed the relevant purposes of the hearing, and did not engage with the crap, so as to not make it relevant by engaging with it. We ended up with a good day, with the ex’s BS motions being denied. In a short post-hearing conference, my client proceeded to rip into me about why we didn’t address or defend against the irrelevant crap, and then ranted about what client was having to pay me to assist them, etc. I explained my viewpoint and actions, and didn’t address the rants about fees. It was hard, but I stayed calm and professional.
Today, first thing this morning, I received an extremely aggressive and insulting email from a new client regarding an action I took based on our last meeting. The action that I took was an email to opposing counsel informing him of our objection to a particular action of his client, and suggesting an acceptable alternative, or we would see him in court. My client bawled me out for not waiting for them to confirm that they wanted to do this (which I was pretty clear I was being directed to do from our last meeting), and then using insulting language and profanity to express their displeasure with me. Despite my initial mental reaction of “What the fuck?!?!”, I responded in a calm and professional manner. I have yet to hear back from them.
I don’t understand why people need to abuse their helpers. Especially folks like the second example here. We are people too, and we didn’t cause the stressful situation you are dealing with. We are trying to help, and trying to be your advocate. We are conducting ourselves with class and professionalism. If you have a legit gripe, and it is expressed in a respectful manner, I will totally own it, and fix the problem or strive not to let it happen again. Alienating your allies is a really stupid thing to do, and will leave you flat footed when you need help most. Maybe think about this before you dump all that crap on me, ok?
And please, everyone, be kind to your lawyer, will ya?