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WHAT I WANT FOR 2018 I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do in 2018. With several cases headed to trial, a solid office manager named Andy, and great colleagues to bounce ideas off, I’m very excited for this year. I know that I’ll get more chances to hone my litigation skills, and I believe that I’ll have many opportunities to become a better attorney. I look forward to all of them. THE STORY OF JOSÉ
That said, when I think about what I really want for 2018, I keep returning to a recent meeting I had with a client — let’s call him José. José’s case should have been straightforward. He was walking across a parking lot when he was struck by a commercial vehicle driven by an employee who was on the clock. Obviously, the insurance company should have taken care of it right away, but I can’t say I was surprised by the way the insurance company acted. They refused to pay a dime, and now we’re building our case. We’re going to get justice, one way or another. When we build cases like this, we always check with our clients regularly, and José and I had a meeting that was only supposed to last half an hour. After all, we were just going over his medical treatments so far and discussing the pain he’d endured as a result of the accident. When José arrived, I could tell that something was wrong. I’m not a big-firm attorney. I don’t have someone looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m going to make my next appointment or calculating how much to bill a client who goes over their allotted time. I’m a solo practitioner, and my time is my own. As a result, I get to know my clients very well. So I started digging, and I found out that the accident had set off a chain of events that José had been dealing with for the past several months. Some of those events might factor into his case, but for the most part, José just needed someone on his side who he could talk to. When he left, he seemed much better than when he arrived. I watched him relax as he talked with me. We chatted for over an hour — much longer than anticipated — but so what? I was able to help a client, and helping clients is my job.
I became an attorney to help people through the practice of law. But I became a solo practitioner because I wanted to go further, because I wanted to build a relationship and level of trust with my clients that isn’t possible when working for a big law firm. Meeting with José reminded me of that. And helping all my clients like I was able to help him is what I want more than anything for 2018. –Meliha Perez Halp ern
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