Although the practice of law for most lawyers consists of never-ending deadlines and the need to interact with many types of individuals, many attorneys are great procrastinators and questionable communicators. Perhaps in an effort to deal with the ever-evolving world of emails, tweets, and other types of social media that consume our day, lawyers have increasingly relegated their staff to the role of “gatekeepers” for their practice. While staff serve an important role in any business, especially in the law, the public has an expectation that a lawyer will be accessible and able to answer questions. Lawyers need to recognize the importance of balancing the expectations of clients with the tools, resources, and staff available. The need to achieve this balance has become increasingly evident to me in my volunteer service for the Missouri Bar.
A little more than three years ago, I was presented with the opportunity to serve as a facilitator for the Missouri Bar program that addresses complaints involving attorney services, and more recently I became a facilitator in the fee-dispute resolution program as well. Serving as a facilitator in both programs has been challenging, informative, and rewarding. When the opportunity first presented itself, I had my doubts. I have to confess: I questioned why I would want to commit any more time to the profession that sometimes consumes far too much of me personally, and interferes with time with my family. Fortunately, those doubts quickly disappeared, and I have embarked on an experience like no other. As I was mulling over the opportunity, I was reminded of a statement once made by Helen Keller, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief task to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”