Integrity and LSAT Preparation: Using LSAT Prep to be a Better Lawyer

Two of the real pleasures of doing what I do at Advise-In Solutions are providing long-term support to my clients and helping clients further develop skills that will help each be a better, more professional lawyer.  Those are reasons that Advise-In works with a limited number of clients.  Not only is that the best way to get the measurable LSAT and admission results my clients and I want but it also invests me in their success in a way that just isn’t possible for a high-volume business.

Sometimes, sticking with that model has a price.  A few months ago, a potential client with institutional support contacted me.  We were near to going ahead when I asked a question to clarify a timing question about which I thought I was just confused.  The potential client’s answer made it clear that she/he was being less than forthright with the institutional donor.  The problem, I think, could have easily been solved by an open conversation but that wasn’t the route this person was taking.  Now I was involved, too, because after all, I’d asked the question.

I could have ignored the answer to my question, I suppose, but instead turned down the business.  I don’t know if most other LSAT instructors or pre-law consultants would have worried about the issue at hand.  That’s not a knock on those that wouldn’t have.  When you go the grocery store to buy an apple, the grocer doesn’t ask you to clear any hurdle other than having apple money in your pocket—and we’re all happier for that.

But I do feel as if what Advise-In Solutions does is different and that imposes an extra little something on me.  Most commercial pre-law and law student advisors haven’t been to law school and very, very few have ever been lawyers.  Nor have they been college professors, part of whose obligation is beyond just teaching the content of their courses.  Many commercial advisors and LSAT teachers are one- or two-year employees of large companies whose objective is simple—to make as much money as they can.  Like the grocery store owner, they don’t need (or want) to deal with clients long-term and don’t need to think about their effect on the legal profession and the clients who hire lawyers.

I’ve talked several times on this blog about using LSAT prep, admission and law school processes to develop good lawyering skills that will pay off long after law school admission and law school are over.  Every now and again, I’m also asked to write a character reference for bar admission for bar candidates.  So I have a responsibility to the legal profession as well and, in my view, the last thing that profession—or its clients—needs is practitioners whose default option is to game donors rather than dealing with them openly (the donor now is in the same position that the client would be a few years from now).  “Forthright dealing” is a legal doctrine for a reason.

Needless to say, I didn’t particularly enjoy telling this potential client that it just wasn’t going to work out, and my potential client certainly didn’t enjoy hearing it.  I also didn’t really get a thrill from giving up income.  My hope, of course, is that however unpleasant such experiences can be, the client whom I turned down will eventually be a better lawyer because of it.  It’s more fun to watch my clients’ analytical, presentation and other skills improve while I’m working with them.  But even when that doesn’t happen, even when I turn down money someone is willing to pay, I still hope a better lawyer will emerge at the end of the road.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on May 1, 2011.

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