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“It's all right then, in point of law ?”
“ Yes: except that it is unstamped; but that is of little consequence : when do you want the new draft? Before I prepare it, it would be better to see your traveller on the subject.”
“Oh, he is out of town, and I am in no hurry! If you will just sign your name to this old agreement, as being free from any legal objection, that will satisfy him, and save trouble.”
I thought the request an odd one; but having had frequent experience of the paltry economy of the man, I concluded that his only object was to save expense, by inducing his traveller to abide by my opinion, without the formal discussion and settling of a new instrument. I therefore wrote on the agreement a sort of certificate, that I saw no legal objection to the agreement, and he took it away with him, The next day explained the whole transaction. Two attorneys called on me, nearly at the same time. We were all well acquainted. Mr. Stubbs entered first.
“On my word, Sharpe, I am much obliged to you."
“What's the matter?"
Queer lo within
“For telling Mr. Crewkman that I am a consummate fool.”
“ Telling him you are a fool! I told him no such thing: what have you to do with Crewkman?” and before the question could be answered, in rushed Mr. Hobbs.
“Sharpe, I've a crow to pick with you ! Stubbs, glad you are here; I am sure you'll not countenance such dirty practice!”
“Hoity-toity, my good friends! what ails you both ?”
“You are a pretty fellow to ask, after trying to cheat my poor client out of his cause and his senses also !”
“What, is Crewkman your client, too?"
“My client! no indeed: nor did I dream that he was yours, till yesterday.”
“ Then he is your client, Sharpe?” said Stubbs. “Well, I am ready enough to band over his papers, as soon as you get the order: but I must say it is shabby work to rob one of his clients by such low artifice as this.”
I was all amazement. “Let us talk without prejudice, gentlemen, and we shall understand each other: at present, it is clear we are all in the dark.”
The certificate signed by me, the day before, was produced by Stubbs. I admitted it to be mine, and explained the circumstances under which I gave it. It seems that Crewkman and his traveller were involved in litigation, on this very agreement: the one contended that it amounted to a partnership, and claimed an account of profits: Crewkman denied the partnership. Stubbs had advised him that he was wrong, and recommended a compromise. Distrusting Stubbs, he had come to ask my opinion, without ever calling my attention to the real point at issue. He took the opinion to Stubbs to challenge him with ignorance; and then to his traveller, to impress on him the hopelessness of his suit, and work him into a compromise. I do not now recollect how the matter terminated.
I have often known this underhanded dealing practiced by men who think themselves wiser than their solicitors; and in most cases, they bring their own punishment, in getting conflicting advice, by submitting one state of facts to one attorney, and another to another; unconscious themselves of the importance of minute accuracy, they report these contradictory opinions to their friends, as edifying illustrations of the “glorious uncertainty of the law!” There is, however, another less frequent, but more galling way of testing their adviser's judgment; more galling, because it implies a doubt of his honesty of purpose. I have had · a client consulting me very gravely on his case, and after I had given it the closest attention, and reluctantly told him that I thought him wrong, he has fairly turned on me, with the laughing avowal that he had deceived me, and reversed his position, being the intended plaintiff, and not defendant, in the matter; that he wanted to be sure that he was right, and had therefore misrepresented his position in the dispute! A cautious man will not always, nor often suspect, but he will always be prepared againts traps laid for him by his own client.
The mention of this habit of appealing from one solicitor to another, without fairly apprising either party of the fact, recalls to my mind an affair of earlier days that may teach my readers to avoid, as much as possible, another class of clients whom I shall designate as the indiscreet. In a certain sense, all clients except those who come to you on "preventive duty,"
to be protected against anticipated risk, are indiscreet; and it is to repair their indiscretion, that your aid is wanted : but there are some instances, in which it is difficult for an attorney, at least a very young oné, to avoid involving himself in the folly of his client; any man, however, might innocently have got into the following scrape, whether professional or note