Just when you think you’ve heard it all
Someone comes along and surprises you!
I was in the office yesterday when a call came through from a gentleman (allegedly) who wanted to appoint a solicitor on a family dispute, but was only willing to instruct us if he could be guaranteed that he would be dealt with by a male solicitor. I asked for the reasons, because I try to be open minded, and there was always the possibility that there was a sufficiently good reason. Perhaps he was very religious and might find dealing with a woman to be difficult. Perhaps there were going to be allegations of a sexual nature that he might be embarrassed to discuss with someone of the opposite sex. No, it was because he was convinced that a woman would be biased against him. His previous solicitor had been a woman, and he was certain that that was why the case was not going his way. So not because perhaps he was in the wrong to any extent, or perhaps because he wasn’t giving clear instructions, or even that perhaps that she wasn’t the right solicitor for him, but simply because of her sex. We are all professional experienced people, capable of listening to our clients with an open mind, and advising them based on the facts, not on our personal feelings. I have no doubt that men are as capable of being influenced by their feelings as women are. I have no doubt that women are as good at putting their feelings on one side as men are.
I was in the fortunate position of being able to politely but firmly refuse to accept the instructions unless he was willing to be advised by whichever member of my team was most suitable for the role. He wasn’t, and the conversation ended there, very amicably. Nevertheless, I anticipate that there are plenty of people who are not able to turn down work. There are people for whom the next piece of business can make the difference between paying the mortgage on time or being made homeless. A while ago, a client of mine was asked to quote for producing very thick heavy duty bag ties that they knew (or suspected) would be used abroad to restrain prisoners. The client was having cash flow difficulties and had the horrid moral dilemma of did they do the honourable thing and reject the work, or did they proceed, on the basis that if they didn’t, the chances are someone else would fulfil the order, and my client needed the money.
Throughout our business lives we have to make difficult decisions, both legal and moral. I can’t always help you with the moral ones (although I’ll happily give you my opinion if you want it) but I can help you with the legal ones, easy or difficult. If you’re having a legal dilemma and you just want someone to talk to about it, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can go for a glass of wine and a chat.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Helping you make the hard decisions.