Arnie Herz is our seventh Legal Highlight. Many of you probably know him as the creator of legal sanity, a member of the law.com family of blogs. I am looking forward to meeting Arnie in mid-December while he is here in Denver conducting some training programs at local law firms.
Please click back to the first of the Legal Highlights to learn about the Legal Highlights process and the reason behind this feature which focuses on what is right and working well in the legal profession. Here are the interviews of all the Legal Highlights.
And now read on the see what this Legal Highlight has to say in response to the seven questions . . .
1) Think about your recent experience in the legal profession and of a specific incident or event that made you feel extremely satisfied or proud. Give a brief description of the incident or event. The reasons I felt satisfied or proud were . . .
Client was being forced out of a high profile job. He was performing extremely well but there was a personality conflict with one of the partners. Client was angry and felt victimized. He blamed the company. The company resented this attitude. Client was afraid termination would devastate his career and his morale. He had no employment agreement and the company was planning to give him only 2-3 weeks severance. My client and his wife lack any savings.
Unbeknowst to the employer, my client has been living with a life threatening illness. Also, unbeknowst to the employer, my client and his wife have spent their life savings on fertility treatments so she could get pregnant while he is still fairly healthy and before the disease progresses. My client and his wife were overwhelmed. They did not see much hope in the situation.
I was able to help my client clarify what it was he really needed in the transition from the current job. I then coached him to stand up for himself in an honest and effective way. We all agreed that it would be disengenuous to play the lawsuit threat when in reality the client was not making its decision based on his medical condition.
By stating honestly what he needed in light of his personal situation (which he disclosed to the employer) and why he deserved it based on his past performance, the Employer ended up giving him an extremely generous severance package that met his need for a transition period. The employer also gave him the ability to resign and transition to a "consulting position" so that there would be minimal impact on his future employabilty. The employer also offered to assist him find new employment either in the existing company or for someone else. Client, his wife and the Company (CEO, head of HR) felt great.
I felt satisfied because I helped the client and his wife move through a very emotional and challenging situation in a highly effective manner that served their best interests. By helping the client in this way, he was also able to foster a deeper and more meaningful relationship with his employer. Although the employer owed him nothing, they ended up giving an extremely generous severance package. (And, I am almost certain that if he played it aggressively, he would have ended up with nothing.) Through his honesty, clarity and strength, and by not alienating the employer, the employer was able to step forward and make a significant contribution to this man's life. The employer felt great about himself and so did my client and his wife.
2) I attended law school because . . .
I wanted to be trusted, valuable and play an important role in the lives of others. After college, I traveled for four years - through Europe, Australia and India. I spent a good chunk of that time studying yoga and meditation at an ashram in rural India. Ironically, it was there that I met a number of highly successful business people and entertainers from around the world, in particular the USA. They often complained how they could not trust their lawyers or advisors and they encouraged me to go to law school so I could be their lawyer. Eventually, they became my first clients. I think I was also influenced by my upbringing. My father is a lawyer, my three other siblings went to law school, and three of us are married to lawyers. Five of my first cousins are lawyers, plus my Uncle and a few other second cousins. So I was not aware there were other options. It was be a lawyer or be a client. I chose lawyer.
3) I would recommend the practice of law because . . .
It meets a number of needs that many people have, namely, it provides a career that gives you the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives, to serve an important role for your clients and society, to be trusted, and to be well compensated for the value you add. It is intellectually, interpersonally and internally challenging and compels one to keep learning, to have strong focus and discipline, and to approach complex problems with intellectual rigor, compassion, common sense and practicality.
4) My colleagues who practice law appreciate doing so because . . .
5) The benefits lawyers contribute to society are . .
Immense. Look at societies, past and present, in which lawyers were/are banned or restricted in their ability to advocate for their clients. Generally, such societies are oppressive, abusive, arbitrary, dangerous, fearful and lawless. Citizens in such countries profoundly lack a sense of safety and security that we so often take for granted here in the United States. If not for the laws “we the people” have consented to in our collective wisdom, and the lawyers to ensure that society is governed by these laws, we’d be living at the whim and fancy of an oppressive ruler, military, or terrorist organization. It is mostly the lawyers who have crafted the essential laws (civil and criminal) by which we live by and the lawyers who ensure the laws are abided by so that we can live as harmoniously as possible.
6) The factors that make up the heart and the soul of law are . . .
Don’t quite know how to answer. I think stated above.
7) Think of a lawyer you consider a role model. The traits or values I respect or admire about him or her are . . .
Wise, helpful, trustworthy, effective, efficient, fair, practical, caring, grounded, persuasive, collaborative, humble, respectful and responsible.