In “Field of Dreams,” the main character Kevin Costner is in the middle of the cornfields when he hears a voice that keeps saying: “If You Built It, He Will Come.”
In my first week as an associate, I feel the exact same way. I need to build a foundation. A solid foundation. It won’t always be a perfect foundation but it has to be one that people can rely on. It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but each incremental step – each successful client file, each hours spent on researching an area of the law, will go a long way.
My father told me a story. One that I also saw Ferran Adria (one of the greatest chef’s of our generation tell) also tell.
When he was doing acupuncture back in the day in Victoria, there were days when nobody would show up to the shop. They’d sit there. Worrying about how to get the next payment to pay the bills.
I have it a lot better and that I should be grateful for. I have a shelter, I have food, I have savings. I have great mentors and individuals who refer me files. But, I have to have patience above all else.
There’s two types of clients who generally consult counsel for immigration. Those who really need good work done for fear of damage to their businesses reputation or their families lives. They could be in a huge hole facing removal from Canada or separation from a loved one. These individuals will only trust and work with the best, most competent lawyers, as they should.
The second group of clients want the quick solution. They demand expediency and they are cost-sensitive. They are the most likely to choose counsel based on price-point and often do select inexperienced counsel simply because they found an ad in a newspaper.
Note: There’s an important third group and a group I care very passionately about. Those who need counsel but can’t afford it. That will be a post for another day. I’ll try and walk you through one of my Access Pro Bono sessions.
As a young lawyer, you aren’t the senior lawyer. You aren’t even the cheap lawyer. My job simply, at this stage, is to be the reliable lawyer. The one client’s can connect with, can trust, and feel like every service fee payment is deserved. It is about not overselling nor underselling my abilities. Even as a lawyer, I am a student of the law and I always will be.
On that note, this week has been a learning experience, but a very good one. As a student, you have people feeding you work and watching your every step. Training wheels. You feel obligated to put in X hours a day to justify your job.
In my position now, I have the ability to control my own schedule, the freedom to take on my own files, but also an responsibility to my Firm, to myself, and most wholeheartedly, to my future clients.
Next week I go to China for a little zen time. I have a girlfriend there I haven’t seen in three months and have seen all of three weeks in the last year. Battle scars.
When I come back, I will need to hit a next gear. I’m in a city with a struggling economy, at a time when immigration laws are uncertain and clients need the advice desperately.
I will try and do a few updates to this particular blog in China, as I read and learn more about the key issues in Canadian immigration law. Until I get to Chongqing… thanks to those who make this story possible.