The Client

Have you ever experienced a client breaking down in tears during a meeting? Being a civil litigation attorney who defends people being sued for personal injury, this happens to me fairly often. It’s not shocking or out of place if you think about it. My clients are ordinary people, not familiar with the legal process, who have just been served with a Summons and Complaint by the Sheriff’s Office, notifying that individual that they are being sued in excess of fifty thousand dollars for damages they caused. Scary stuff.

Recently, I made my initial phone call to a new client, who we will call Amanda for this story, to protect her identity and attorney-client privilege. She picked up the phone and, after I explained who I was and why I was calling, remained very quiet while I described what to expect and how to prepare for the various stages of the lawsuit ahead of her.

“Paul,” she said softly, but with determination, “this accident was not my fault. It was one hundred percent the other driver’s fault.” I noted the sincerity in Amanda’s voice, and we began setting forth a plan of action to defend her case.

As I was wrapping things up, I asked her, “do you have any more questions for me before I let you go?” That’s when Amanda couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“You know what, Paul,” she said, now crying with resentment in her voice, “you can take the strategy we just laid out to defend this case and throw it out the window! Nothing ever goes my way! My life is just a series of one thing after another going wrong. I guarantee you this lawsuit is not going to turn out well for me. We might as well just give up right now!”

In that moment, I innately stopped being defense attorney Paul Padrón and reverted back to being just Paul. I asked her to step out of the “defendant’s” shoes she was in and told her I was going to step out of the “lawyer’s” shoes I was in, and we were just going to talk as two people: Amanda and Paul.

Amanda then began unloading numerous examples in her life of various hardships she has faced and continues to face, from family to friends to work, both big and small. She was convinced that the cards were always stacked against her and no matter how hard she tried or what she did, things always turned out for the worst when it came to her.

Over the course of the next half an hour, I was able to slowly change Amanda’s focus from all the things that have gone wrong to all the things that have turned out well. I could tell by the pitch in her voice that she was beginning to calm down, beginning to realize that we all endure hardships and it’s ultimately up to the individual, alone, to focus on the positive or the negative.

Feeling that we had finally come to a place where Amanda was willing to maintain a better mindset, I asked her, “Do you enjoy reading?”

“Absolutely,” she said, “I read all the time, especially on my kindle.”

“Great!” I exclaimed. “There’s an E-book that I want you to download. It’s free on Amazon this Sunday. It’s called The Gift of Samuel. It’s an inspirational story, at its core, reminding the reader to fight every day to keep a positive attitude, no matter how much life drags you down. A lot of what we just spoke about is in the story and I think you’ll enjoy it. At the very least, I think you’ll find inspiration in the story’s message.”

“Whoa!” Amanda replied. “That’s so crazy! What a coincidence!”

“What’s so crazy? What’s a coincidence?”

“I was talking to a friend the other day about how I was struggling with all that is going on in my life. This friend suggested a couple of books for me to read. One of the books is The Gift of Samuel.”

“What?” I said, doubtfully. “Are you sure? It’s not a very well-known book. Are you sure your friend said the book’s title is ‘The Gift of Samuel?’”

“Yeah, I’m sure, I have it written down, right here in front of me – The Gift of Samuel.”

In that moment, I realized I had accomplished my goal. I wrote The Gift of Samuel for Amanda, her friend, and everyone else who struggles with keeping a positive attitude. My book was finding its way to the people who needed it.

Today, Amanda has become one my favorite clients. And, I, one of her favorite attorneys…and authors.