When a client last week said to me "I know you're a solicitor, but really, thank you for your honesty", it got me thinking about the profession's reputation and why there seems to be such a common-held belief that lawyers are "dishonest" (among other negative stereotypes). And yet, as solicitors, we are supposed to be trusted advisers, acting with integrity and protecting our client's best interest.
So I found it disconcerting when another individual questioned my role as a solicitor in acting for a client to obtain a Grant of Probate and then attend to the post-Grant administration. Their view was that our "interference" was unnecessary, and just an obstacle to their entitlement to receive their inheritance as quickly as possible. It made no difference to them that this was the correct procedure and way of dealing with the deceased's estate.
I, like many others (rather naively perhaps), had a desire to enter the profession to uphold justice, even if only in a small way. And I still take pride in what I do by helping people to put the affairs of a lost loved one in order, at a time when naturally, they may find life a little difficult. It is my aim to assist my clients through this process, and take the "hassle" out of it, so that they are able to move on with their lives in other respects. I also see it as a sign of respect to the deceased person, in ensuring their affairs are concluded in the correct and lawful way.
It is never a solicitor's intention to invade a client's personal life, hinder their objectives or put obstacles in place. The difficulty though, is ensuring that this is made clear from the start and balancing this with the need to uphold our professional integrity.
This means we cannot always tell the clients what they want to hear. I refer to the Solicitors Regulation Authority core principles, which include an obligation to act in a client's best interest, provide a proper service, and behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in us and the provision of legal services.
I therefore make no apology for always attempting to do this, even if it is not always what my client wants to hear. I am confident that this is the only way in which a solicitor can ultimately take pride in what they do and I am also hopeful that in the long run, clients and the public will come to respect this.