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If my work were not necessarily anonymous, and anonymous praise, however sincere, goes for nothing, I could with ease name a hundred solicitors that well deserve to be classed with such as I have here described.
" Cura pertinacia recte disputari non potest."-Cic. de Fin.
But I have been tempted into a long digres. sion from my immediate subject. I might distinguish and classify clients by as many peculiarities as there are passions in human nature: I wish, however, only to mention some of the more usual varieties. There is a very large and very profitable class that may be described as the "wrong - headed.” headedness may spring from temper, from timidity, from ignorance, and a multitude of causes. I have already given a few specimens of the class that will illustrate this, but the wrongheadedness to which I am now alluding, is an infirmity of itself, more nearly allied to pride, perhaps, than to any other kindred spirit, but distinguishable in many points even from that. It is an obstinacy of that peculiar character that will resolutely act for itself, even while it admits its inability to judge, or to collect the materials for judging correctly. It acknowledges its own dullness; it seeks to be enlightened; it professes an eager anxiety to see its way clearly;” it owns to perplexity; and acknowledges inexperience. The attorney is taken with this show of deferential confidence; he exposes the true position of the party, points out the material circumstances, explains the collateral bearings of the subjects, suggests the difficulties and advises on the prudential course; when to his surprise and mortification, he finds he has been talking to the winds.
“I admit all you say, Mr. Sharpe; there is a great deal of truth in it; perhaps you are right; only it does not seem to me that I must go on as I proposed.”
“ Then, Sir, you will assuredly subject yourself to costs, and probably to disappointment.”
“It is very honest in you to say so, Mr. Sharpe, but I own I have formed my opinion long since.”
“ Your opinion was formed under a mistaken view of the case: you now see your position better."
“Yes, but I am not apt to be mistaken ; I find others agree with me in my first impressions.”
“Perhaps you did not so fully explain yourself and your situation to them.”
“It may be so; but I do not well see how I can alter my purpose."
“ You have not understood before how desti. tute you are of evidence.”
“Yes: but I may find some better evidence
“Then the legal point is doubtful, if you do.”
“ That's true: but I must trust to counsel for that. It strikes me that I must go on.”
“Should you eventually fail, you widen the breach that it is your interest to heal.”
“I am aware of that; still I don't see how I can help myself.”
“I feel it my duty to say that I think your determination a rash one.”
“I am very sorry for that, Sir; very sorry, indeed: but if you are unwilling to undertake the cause I must consult Mr. Darall. I have heard all you have said with attention; but I confess I am not convinced, so I cannot alter my mind.”
And if you remain honestly firm to your
opinion, no matter how rational or how disinterested, you lose your client. Here is a choice of difficulties : take up the cause and fail, and the failure is not thrown on your client's obstinacy, not even by his own conscience, but on your ignorance and irresolution : should you succeed, the probability is that you lose his confidence hereafter, because your success gives the lie to your own predictions. Reputation is endangered either way, for I know to my cost, that a character for being too cautious is as fatal to professional repute, as the opposite extreme of temerity. These wrong-headed customers are the most profitable of any, when they do happen to be right; this however, is but seldom, for if they do not find a post in their way, they will soon make one to run their heads against. On the whole, I dread a “but” and a “yes, but” client. Pleas by confession and avoidance are inost provoking.
The “whimsical” species is a very large family; and if not very perplexing, certainly very far from agreeable. I may observe of this class, as of the last, that their business is generally of a nature peculiar to themselves. The case of the wrong-headed is usually one of some