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Sunday, August 22, 2004

How to Lose Friends & NOT Influence People

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I have a friend that is going through a divorce. This is a very confusing and horrible time for her. Recently she called me and said "I have a job for you." My first thought was Oh No! (She's been building a patio and that is hard labor in the sun) Then she said "I'll pay you, of course." Now, that's different. For some money I can brush up on my masonry skills. (I have skills, lots of them)

So I inquired. What's this job? That's when she hit me with it. She wants some help with her divorce, papers to look at, decisions to make. Who better than Legal Diva for this job?

Answer: Anybody but me!

She entreats "But I'll PAY you!" I'm pretty sure that the illegal practice of law will keep me from getting my bar card... but the illegal practice of law for monetary gain? I bet that could get me arrested, as well.

I feel bad about this. I would like to help her and I would also like to help my neighbors, family members (Baby Brother just had the battery thing...), friends of friends and the checker at Home Depot who saw my school sweat shirt and wanted to discuss her boyfriends upcoming parole hearing. However, the rules about this are pretty clear. If you aren't a lawyer, admitted to the practice of law, you aren't allowed to practice law. The same goes for doctors, pharmacists, therapists and whale trainers at Sea World. (I spent some time wanting to be a whale trainer as this is an excellent skill to possess, but they don't let you just jump in the pool. Drat!)

Some of you might wonder, as many of The Future Lawyers of America do, why I don't just do it but keep it quiet? After all, we know how things really work. In the real world, no one follows these silly ethical precepts. We all just lie and cheat and bend and spin our way through everything, concerned only with getting what we want in the end. Right?

Diva, you might say, if you just refrain from doing something silly -- like posting your wrong-doing on some web site with your photo for others to see! -- then you will surely get away with meteing out a little legal advice here and there. This is the real world, after all. (I now have that song from the Disney ride It's A Small World playing in my head, thank a bunch!)

Call me naive and idealistic, but the successful completion of my legal ethics class was not the end of my ethical considerations. I plan on considering the ethical implications of all the important decisions that I make from now on. "Paper or plastic?", "Fries with that?", and even "Could you practice a little law for me?". My friends, family, neighbors and minimum wage service persons will all just have to understand.

But if you're a whale trainer from Sea World? We might be able to work something out.


Blogger Christopher Chopin said...

Right decision...minimizing worry, I find, is a large part of life as a lawyer...don't do anything you might get in trouble for and you've got less stuff to lay awake at night over...but you can certainly become practiced in pointing people in the right direction...

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an even better reason why you wouldn't want to give legal help to your friend regarding her divorce: it's your friend's divorce. You do NOT want to get involved, trust me.


7:11 PM  

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