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Lawyers Make House Calls

Lawyers Make House Calls

Believe it or not, I make house calls often. And I actually prefer it. The law office setting seems designed to make a person nervous and can inhibit any real communication.

I might be on to something, maybe I need to look into a remodel of the office. Joking aside, I prefer to meet clients on their home turf. A place where they feel comfortable and I can make a connection with my clients. House calls are an important part of my job.

Why is a connection important, you ask? Well, how can I get your story across to the jury if I don’t know and understand you? How can I get a jury to care about you and your situation if I don’t know you? For me, meeting a person at their home is a sign of respect. When someone chooses me as their lawyer, they have given me the only case they will ever have. They have entrusted me with the handling of a hugely personal and challenging matter. I owe it to them to try to learn about them and their lives, even if just a little.

I recently tried a case for a client who was an immigrant from Communist China. Dr Chen was difficult to understand and I was afraid the jury might not connect with him. One day I stopped by his office unannounced. I could tell he was pleased and insisted that I have lunch with him. While we waited for food, I noticed a framed picture of a young naval officer at graduation. Standing in front of the American flag and beside her was my client, her father. As I pointed to the photo, he beamed with pride. Yes, she graduated from MIT too! I don’t know why I hadn’t covered this with him. But, after that day, after taking the time to make a house call, I knew how to make that connection with the jury. And a connection was made, the jury was out for 5 minutes before returning with a verdict of acquittal. It was my honor to connect with Dr. Chen and his family and make those house calls.

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