Atty. Rami Hourani
Due to personal circumstances, I had to jump straight in to the solo practice and forego the training that I could obtain at a Law Firm in Manila which was the prevailing wisdom in my law school at the time. This prompted a period of learning, the fruits of which I hope to impart in this brief article.
1. Be Truthful with your Clients, No Matter What
A client had approached me to supervise the acquisition of a piece of property and much of the cost estimate was a visit to the property and my ensuring the sale would push through. My client paid a good amount of the cost estimate by way of deposit. In very short order, I began going through my checklist of things to make sure that there would be no problems with the land to be acquired. I got to the first item in the list “Land Classification” and found out that the land was not alienable and disposable. This means that it was actually owned by the government despite being covered by a Tax Declaration. In order to protect my client, I had to object to his acquisition, clearly state why the acquisition was a bad idea and face the possibility that he’d ask for his money back.
Thankfully, he took my advice well and did not push through with the transaction. We were also able to find other things he needed me to do. The client continues to request my assistance for his business dealings.
2. Focus on building Trust
A challenge for a young lawyer on their own is two-fold: First, you do not have the specialized skills to be successful in the practice, and Second, you do not have clients with problems where you might develop those skills. It’s the classic chicken and egg. There are some things all lawyers can do though: Smile, Be Honest, Listen Intensely, Take Notes, Remember Names. These small things convey that you care about the people who come through your door. People don’t see Tax Lawyer, Land Lawyer, Business Lawyer, etc. They see a lawyer and how he conducts himself.
If you look like the kind of person who will devote your sincere attention to a given matter then they will trust you with their world of legal problems and you can begin acquiring the knowledge base necessary to expand your practice to more specialized and lucrative fields of law. In that way, we obliterate the chicken and egg issue because we see clearly that we must begin by building trust, and trust that the business will follow.
3. Fight for the Truth
As a lawyer, you the conduit by which the laws aims can enter the real world, you are also the first touch point for judicial or administrative authorities prosecuting their public functions. When you are asking for accommodation from a court or arbiter, or really doing anything where you need their support, you must frame every request in light of how it is the best path to elicit the truth of a matter before you.
Fighting for the truth is important for another reason, when you hew as closely to possible to the truth of the matter in drafting your pleading (with the embellishment that is permitted in making your case) you conduct yourself as an honorable lawyer. This pays dividends because your client cannot fault you for sticking to the truth and your colleagues in the profession will see that you are someone to be trusted.
Atty. Hourani practices law in Cebu City, Philippines. If you would like to set an appointment with him, you may reach him here.