On Monday, February 20, 2012 we honor Abraham Lincoln with a national holiday to celebrate his achievements as our 16th President of the United States.
Besides being unquestionably one of our greatest leaders, he should also be recognized for his virtues as a lawyer.
While the character (literally and figuratively) that Matthew McConaughey portrayed in the Lincoln Lawyer was charismatic and court room savvy, he certainly was no Abraham Lincoln. Sadly, not many lawyers are.
What do I mean? I found this quotation from Abraham Lincoln that sums it up perfectly: “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.”
No matter if you are a lawyer or not, these words will hopefully have implications in your life. Daily we are given the opportunity to take the high road and seek an amicable resolution to our conflicts.
What do you do when your neighbor’s dog wanders into your yard. Is your inclination to call the dog warden? What do you do when your significant other has been less than honest with you? Is your first action to post the matter on Facebook?
Think for a moment, “what would Lincoln do?”
Hopefully, we can agree that the world is full of enough conflict makers and, yes, one more unnecessary conflict does matter.
Abraham Lincoln’s quotation is not anti-litigation. Rather, he is suggesting that we should seek a compromise whenever possible.
I have been involved in civil litigation in one form or another for 20 plus years. At times, litigation is absolutely necessary. However, it is always important as a lawyer and/or litigant to maintain an objective overview of the case.
Part of being an advocate is to counsel your client in terms of the risks, costs and potential outcomes of the case.
An honest lawyer will tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. That is what Honest Abe would do… even today if he was still practicing.
What say you?
Legal blogs are a form of informational advertising and should not be taken as legal advice. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this topic and/or another legal matter.
Bill Joherl, Esq.