Lost Patience


I lost patience with a client today.

Some might call him a former client, actually. He came to me with a real legal mess, and I steered him through it. Not a magic-wand result, but a favorable agreed resolution that included a misdemeanor probation in felony court. For a lot of lawyers, that would be the end, but I believe in providing continued maintenance to pleased clients.

Today he made an appointment to come in to the office to talk. He wanted me to fix some things that I didn’t think could be fixed. In fact, I thought that his focus was wrong.

After waiting 40 minutes for him to turn up and then trying to get him to come to the point for half an hour and then finding half an hour later that the first point wasn’t really the point and then finding out another half hour later that the second point wasn’t really the point either, all the while trying to get a straight answer from him, I stood up, unceremoniously announcing that our meeting was over. I told him that I would try to resolve the second point, but that with regard to the first and third points I thought he was out of luck. I told him that he needed to just face the fact that he had screwed up and focus on getting through his probation, rather than the things that it was interfering with.

Anyway, losing patience isn’t something I do every day. Or every week. Or every month, even. Mark-losing-his-patience isn’t even an annual event. I felt terrible about it, especially since I made him cry. So after losing patience with my client, of course, I lost patience with myself. And then yelled at the kids. Naturally. Because what better remedy for losing your shit with one person who’s depending on you for help, than losing it with two others?

The dogs, at least, have so far had the good sense to stay out of my way.

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0 responses to “Lost Patience”

  1. Cut yourself some slack. I went to the first proffer I’ve ever attended today and had to listen to Joseph Campbell discuss Buddhism on the way as it’s been a long sleep-deprived week, but also a good one.

    When I was in law school, with a couple toddlers in the house, I used to be able to look at my golden retriever as a barometer on my stress level. If he had a worried look on his face, I knew he was picking up on my stress and that it was time to put the book down and pick a kid up.

    My favorite memory of law school is the time I was all stressed out as a 1L, the kids were sick of being inside on a rainy day and I couldn’t study with all the noise. After I yelled at them, I suddenly said, “Alright, you have two minutes to get your boots and raincoats on and we’re going puddle stomping!”

    We floated paper boats down the streams running through the apartment complex parking lots and they had the best time getting to break the rules, and the routine.

    I should have done it more though as a lot of times I just yelled. But kids, like dogs, are pretty quick to forgive.

  2. Mark:
    We’ve all got cases/clients we are married to, and only stay in it because of the kids. Sometimes we have to stand up and leave the room before we say something we will regret and can’t take back. I think losing patience is merely a defense mechanism. Don’t worry about it.

    sg

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