Growing up, please and thank you were the magic words used to get something I wanted from my parents or others; as an adult, it stands the same. The golden rule: “Treat others the way you wanted to be treated” is something everyone should live by and can benefit from doing in their everyday life.
Fresh out of high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to be growing up but I did know that I wanted to earn money. Right out of graduation, I took the summer off then started a job with the local government in the clerk’s office with court appointed attorneys. I would basically “feed” these attorneys, assigning them cases that were court appointed in the juvenile court. With over 300 attorneys on the court appointed list at the time, being able to treat each one fairly with even number of cases assigned to all was something I developed a system for and divided out equally among them all. Unfortunately, all did not see it that way sometimes and it was difficult to please everyone involved.
Everyday multiple criminal defense lawyers in Delaware would come into my office and ask if I had any new cases for them, sometimes I did, sometimes I did not. Most would smile politely and say “thanks” and come back again the next day, others would just shrug their shoulders and walk out. Not only am I remembering the ones that didn’t care to smile or thank me, but mostly I am remembering the ones that stayed an extra 30 seconds to make small talk or ask how the day was going.
The clerk’s office has a lot of power when it comes to making things easier or harder for the criminal defense attorney and their clients. If something so small is missing, they can send the papers back, making the process drag out even longer or they could simply let you know what is missing, and help in the process of getting it fixed and filed in a timely manner. The clerks, just like all human beings, remember those who are nice, take time to ask how things are going and are willing to take time out of their day to make a positive impact. With that said, the clerk’s office will also remember the ones that are pushy, the ones that don’t say “thank you” and the ones that don’t take time to build a relationship with the individuals who are constantly helping them out.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for an attorney to build a positive relationship with the clerk’s office; the ladies and gentlemen who are going to help them out when needed with guidance and answers. With the benefit of a positive relationship comes worry, hassle free filing and time stamped copies on time. (which means a lot more than you know to the people involved) It also means so much to the clients when we obtain the information we need, we can help them and their families out in the process of easing their mind in a timely manner with what exactly is going on with the case and why. It’s so nice when a client calls in to ask a question and we have the answers from the court already instead of having to tell them we are still waiting on that. It’s especially nice when we are able to call the clients and their families before they are expecting us to with the information they have been waiting to hear.
“When I walk into a new courthouse, I make sure to introduce myself to two people: the first clerk I meet and the judge’s bailiff,” explained Attorney Brian Jones. “My motives are two-fold. First, I genuinely like to meet new people and hear their stories. Second, when it comes to getting the best result for the client in the most efficient way possible, these are the people that often know the local customs and shepherd me through the minefield.”
Like everyday life with everyone, the golden rule is something to stand by, along with the simple “please and thank you.” Not only is it polite, they can get you a long way in life when you need something, or make someone’s day a little better when they need it.