The Parable of the Principled Client

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
  •  
April 30, 2021

Client asks an attorney to file a lawsuit over a business dispute.

"Your lawsuit has merit," the attorney says, "but it will cost more than it is worth. Based on my normal fee it would not make sense."

"I understand, but this is about vindicating a principle."

While considering this a bit irrational, attorney says to himself, "What else can I assume but that he knows his own mind?"

By the time a year passes the client has stopped paying.

"Your lawsuit is progressing nicely," the attorney informs the client, "but there is still the matter of my fee."

"Your fee? Your fee is now more than the lawsuit is worth!"

"But remember," the confused lawyer responds, "this lawsuit is about principle. You said money was not important!"

"But now remember what you said: that your normal fee did not make sense in this case. So I assumed you understood the principle was more important than your fee.

"After all," the client goes on, now slightly indignant, "I am principled, but I am not stupid."

"But why should I sacrifice for this principle?" responds the attorney.

"How should I know?" answers the client. "What else could I assume but that you knew your own mind?"

He who does business with one he deems a fool, is himself the greater fool.