I saw Gary* for the first time in many years last week. He actually said "Hey Matt" and reached out to shake my hand as he was being arraigned next to a public defender.
It disturbed me to see Gary there.
I met him approximately twenty-three years ago. He was still in his teens. He broke into the criminal justice system in an unremarkable way; low-level drug dealing and interfering with police.
Here he was, once again, standing in a court with which he was very familiar, charged with misdemeanors. But, now he's in his forties.
When I met Gary, I represented clients. In fact looking at our database of client notes from that era, my office's language was filled with that term - client.
Gary, the client, continued to run awry of the law and came to me for help several times. He went to other lawyers also. He used drugs. He smoked a lot of weed and he collected convictions.
As I looked at Gary, standing with his back to me and facing the judge last week, I immediately wondered whether I could have done more for him if I had seen him as a person and not as a client.
Here's a secret that most lawyers don't talk about: our most successful clients, (our people), do a lot of the work themselves, but they do that work best when we advise them, guide them, defend them and protect them as people, not as clients.
Our most successful people are the ones who have wholeheartedly understood their need to find a durable solution.
What's a durable solution? It's the one that identifies the problem or problems that brought you to us. Then you follow a protocol designed by our firm, that frequently enlists other professionals and concludes with the underlying obstacles and issues having been brought out into the light of day, dismantled and set on a course for resolution.
I missed an opportunity with Gary. I regret that very much. I know that I missed that opportunity because Gary was smart and insightful. He was susceptible to a durable solution.
At the Maddox Law Firm, when we speak about success for our people, we think about the best possible resolution of their case. But far more importantly, we strive toward that durable solution.
We don't represent clients. We represent people and we are driven to assist our people move on from their Maddox Law experience and thrive.
*This is a pseudonym to protect privacy.