There’s an art to giving a good apology.
It is said that for an apology to be effective, it has to be costly. No, we’re not (necessarily) talking about money. A good apology doesn’t require the restaurant manager to wipe out your tab and fork over a $50 gift card. The cost for an effective apology can be to your reputation (for example: “I want everyone to know what a bad attorney I’ve been”). Or, the cost can come in the form of a future commitment to do better (“We’re changing our corporate structure to include more training”).
Apologies are not only the right thing to do, but they can be good for business. Doctors who apologize to their patients for screwing up are significantly less likely to be sued by that patient. As such, we now have “I’m sorry” laws that don’t permit folks to use an apology later in court.
All of this brings me to my own apology, of sorts.
I passed the bar in 1993 and my first job was as a public defender (PD). My first day on the job as a PD was a trial day. Not just any trial day, but the first day of a very busy trial period. I had over 50 clients set for trial–and I had never stepped foot in a courtroom. Like I said, this was my first day as a lawyer, first job, first everything. When the elevator doors opened in Orange County’s old courthouse, there were so many people set for trial that you could barely get to the courtroom.
So, if you were my client back in 1993 on my first day as a public defender–I’m sorry. Yes, I did the best I could. But, you folks did not get my best work. Not even close. Actually, I’m a better lawyer after 25 years of defending cases than I was last year, 24 years in. I wish I could apologize to all the folks who didn’t get my best work while I was a public defender. That being said, I loved my time as a PD, it was a training camp of sorts, and it is a mandatory experience for all aspiring criminal defense attorneys. Continue Reading