Pit Bull Syndrome: Helpful Insights In The Lawyer Selection Process

Our records indicate that of the last 216 prospective clients who have come through the front door, 179 came in search of a pit bull and 37 in search of a junk yard dog. If only I were running a dog pound instead of a law office.

What’s with the pit bull stuff?   There is a common perception among the general population which equates effective lawyering with meanness and unbridled aggression.

Let’s face it folks, when we’re in trouble; when we have a critical situation in our life which has taken a drastic turn south; that first response, even for the most sacred among us, is to hire a junk yard dog.  Who in their right mind thinks lap dog at a time like this?  When life is on the line think pit bull not poodle, right?

Maybe not.  For 50 cents I sure hate to get people mad at me.  But life is a gamble, so let me be the one to make this radical suggestion – if it’s destruction you want, pick Hannibal Lechter as your lawyer.  If it’s effective legal representation you seek, then perhaps you should choose your lawyer based on other criteria.

On the subject of dogs – imagine that you are walking Fido on the dike in Wilson.  It is a beautiful early spring afternoon, sunny, almost warm.   You love walking Fido.  Watching her play, sniff, wag, run and romp with her friends.  It is such a comfortable scene.  You are thoroughly into the moment, and life is absolutely glorious!

You scarcely notice the dog approaching.  Suddenly a hair-raising sound fills your ears, the sound of menacing growls,  teeth  bared.  Before there is time to react you watch helplessly as this interloper clamps its jaws around Fido’s neck, intent on inflicting hideous pain and damage.  You are in a state of disbelief as you witness two of God’s creatures transfixed in a dangerously fierce, utterly senseless struggle. Your heart is pounding, your body coursing with adrenaline.   In the space of a millisecond your world has devolved from serenity to emergency, as every fiber in you is now focused on the life and death challenge of separating your beloved Fido from this monster.

Whew!  What an awful experience.  It has ended as abruptly as it began.  It has accomplished nothing and cost much.

That folks, is precisely what you get when you hire a pit bull lawyer. Fierce, senseless struggles that cost so much and accomplish so little.  Sound good?  If so, please call me so I can refer you to a pit bull psychiatrist I know.

So what to look for when hiring legal counsel?  From my perspective, there is nothing more energizing professionally than working with a lawyer on the other side of the table who is smart, competent, well prepared and professional.  Someone who takes the job very seriously, but who does not get personal.  It doesn’t matter whether the case involves contract negotiations, custody, landlord and tenant relations, personal injury, or any other area of the law.  The law business is competitive.  So when a lawyer is working at the top of his or her game, it is a healthy challenge for every other lawyer involved.   And it is the clients who reap the benefit in the end.

Although it is typically an adversarial process, many of life’s principles are equally applicable to the practice of law.  You really do want a lawyer who is able to keep the focus on the issues, to keep the eye on the ultimate goal.  A lawyer who is not interested in demonizing, personalizing, degrading.  Unlike the neutron bomb, the process really does work best when everybody is left standing in the end.

Yes, there are lawyers in our state who believe in the junk yard dog concept and actively cultivate that kind of reputation.  Are they more effective?  I don’t think so.  Are they more costly?  Heavens yes, because that is the nature of our beast.  Intimidating and aggressive tactics must be met with resistance, and all of that drives up the costs in a field which is altogether too expensive even when the process functions smoothly.

There is more than a fine line between healthy competition and unfair, counterproductive behavior which is destructive to all involved.   You can do your part to make this world a better place.  I know I have said this to you before.  Go this very minute to your lawyer’s office and give that big, sensitive, insecure oaf a loving hug.  Help stamp out pit bull disease right now.

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