Last night I watched Clinton on the American Experience. Putting aside his womanizing, I realized that Bill Clinton is the perfect model for “The Lawyer Who Hugs.” Bill Clinton has a preternatural ability to empathize and care for people who have vastly different lives. He meets people, and he cares for them deeply. People strongly feel his empathy and understand that he cares about them. While I would never presume to compare myself to the master, that is what I aspire to do with my law practice—to make my clientele understand how deeply I want the best possible outcome for both them and their case.
The other thing about Clinton, though, is that he has an ability to stand-up to his detractors and enemies. While he was in office, he prevented his political opponents from rolling-over him. During the American Experience episode, Sidney Blumenthal says that Clinton’s opponents “believed that he was soft, that he could be pushed around, and that they could have their way. They believed that he lacked the confidence to stand up to them.” Newt Gingrich thought that Bill Clinton would capitulate to his legislative agenda, but Clinton persevered; Gingrich thought he had the upper-hand during the government shutdown of 1995, but Clinton won that particular showdown. I, too, endeavor to be strong when negotiating with my legal opponents.
The American Experience also has a cautionary tale. Clinton was most effective when he was pragmatic and worked towards accomplishing modest, feasible goals. After his political defeat with his health care bill, he went back to more modest goals, like trying to hire more local police officers. I want to remain grounded in pragmatism as well. I promise to work hard to get the best possible outcome for my clientele, but sometimes the best possible outcome is not a perfect outcome. From time-to-time, that may entail urging a client to take a plea or to accept the slow deliberation of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But always, I will care about my clientele.