I had a cool and inspiring lawyer experience recently. I was in court with a client who had been treated poorly for more years than anyone ever should. As we waited our turn, we chatted about my client's children and a recent vacation. Our case was called, and as we took our seats with the opposing party six feet away, my client sat, hunched over with both arms crossed, looking at the ground. I made my argument, we prevailed, matter ordered in our favor. Yay! So exciting! But more exciting was that after the judge rendered a decision, my client became six inches taller right in front of my eyes. We left the courtroom to discuss the results, and although the issue I was arguing had been pretty routine, the immediate impact its outcome had on my client was remarkable. From that moment through the rest of the day, my client was brave. For the first time since the start of my representation, my client had courage. And I thought, wow, how very cool is it that I can empower a person by just doing my job?
All weekend I have been thinking about empowerment. We hear so much in the news these days about organizations empowering women by offering experiences and products and jeans that are properly tailored for diverse bodies. Empowering a healthy lifestyle offering a website with recipes calling for exotic and holistic spices. 'Empower,' 'empowering,' 'empowerment'...it's hard to know what these words mean anymore.
I believe “EMPOWERMENT” means a person's having the ability to drive his or her own life outcomes. A person having choice. A person having decision-making autonomy. A person feeling safe. When a person has been falsely arrested for something small, knowing there are real options other than paying a fine and accepting a criminal record. When a person is going through a rough divorce or custody battle, or a small business owner is struggling to have a go at it...there are choices. Working as an attorney within the law to support a client's efforts, or to return to someone the choice or autonomy or drive or feeling of safety that was at one points taken away. My mission as an attorney is to empower every client...to help each feel taller and stronger with every interaction.
Not all cases have an immediate outcome with a thrilling decision. Many issues take some time to resolve. But…one thing I do in my practice of law is work to empower my clients with choice. There are many modern and innovative ways to empower people through the law, and there is rarely a scenario in which there is absolutely no choice, no option, no way out. I am proud of my client for recognizing that there was an option, and going after it. And am still so excited to watch my client feel brave and empowered for the first time in a very long while.
Dr. Kathleen M. Linnane, Esq.
Kathleen Linnane is the Managing Partner of Linnane & Associates. Check back for our weekly blog updates about current legal issues of interest, and how changes and updates to the law might affect you and your community.