Published 2 May 2022, The Daily Tribune

Recently, our law firm celebrated its 16th founding anniversary. My thanksgiving message to clients and friends focused on what I considered “beatitudes” for a law firm.

The word “beatitude” comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning blessedness. The phrase “blessed are” in each beatitude implies a current state of happiness or well-being. At first blush, the Beatitudes appear to offer various consolations to the downtrodden, but on deep reflection, they also propound a standard of judgment and offer strict guidance for good behavior.

It is in the context of what I believe is the standard of behavior for a law firm that I formulated my own version of the Beatitudes. Upon the request of clients and readers, I am pleased to share the condensed version through this column.

  1. Have a clear mindset. “ The client is always right. He may only be wrong when he is no longer a client.” The client has a goal for engaging  the law firm. He goes to the law firm, inspired by the hope that the task can be done. Thus, guided by the client’s legitimate considerations, use your knowledge of the law, not to tell the client the task cannot  be done, but how it can be done.
  2. A lawyer should not only be a counsel, he should be a friend as well. A lawyer should not only give sound legal advice but must also be a friend whose shoulder the client can lean on. Let the client unload on you all his burdens, professional or personal. Listen and offer words of encouragement and of course, do not make that part of the meetings billable.
  3. Guard your reputation with your life. Benjamin Franklin said that it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it. Warren Buffet is more precise. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
  4. A law firm is only as good as the lawyers in its roster. Steve Jobs once said that great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people. No matter how hardworking you are, there are only  24 hours a day. No matter how brilliant you are, you have only have one mind. But, you can never  efficiently serve all your clients, alone. You have to create your twins or better yet, multiples of you.
  5. Complement your legal team with competent non-legal staff. According to Elon Musk, if you are trying to create a company, it is like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion. For a law firm, it has to be a happy mix of competent legal and non-legal staff. 
  6. You can never put a good law firm down. There will be ups and downs. Challenges and adversities will never be wanting. In those moments, do not cut corners. Do not  surrender your principles and compromise your values. Weather the storm with those values and principles you hold dear. Time has a way of making things right. Continue being good and doing good. Soon, the storm will disappear. After Good Friday always comes Easter Sunday.
  7.  Lawyers should be socially responsible. Lawyering is not about making money. It is being of service to your clients, employees and society. Sometimes, the economic side of running a law firm may take precedence over the noble reasons why lawyers exist. When you realize you are being worldly, instead of being a man of the world, pause, take stock and recalibrate your moral compass.
  8. Pray because it always works. Work as if everything depends on work but pray as if everything depends on prayers.

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