I was recently asked by a practicing lawyer friend why I talk national and international politics with clients, “Isn’t it bad for business?”. To which I responded, it’s a political town, I enjoy it, understand it, and most of my clients do as well.
It is not something I recommend to every DC lawyer, but, if you are doing good work for your client and he or she opens that door toapolitical banter,why not engage? And, in some cases, if your not following the public policy and political happenings in Congress or the Administration, you may be doing your client a huge disservice.
Some lawyers fear doing so could result in a losing a client. Others say it is bad form, while some think potential clients of opposite political views will not hire them. It depends, but, by and large, you want clients who hire you because your a great lawyer and are passionate about fixing a problem and providing other value. They will rarely, if at all, care about your political affiliation. And, if they do, is that the type of client you want to represent?
After working in this fine city since 1992, one of the many lessons I’ve picked up along the way is that public policy is serious business, but do not take yourself too seriously when engaging in it. Public policy requires that we engage with folks who usually do not agree with you 100% Much like anything else in life, and just like practicing law.
Some of my best and most rewarding clients have been individuals with political and ideological views diametrically opposed to mine. If your a great lawyer who cares about your client, it makes no difference to them. You may make a few new friends along the way as well.
For a good example of a lawyer talking politics out in the open, and still doing legal work (some of it in DC), visit this blog, What About Paris?
Life is a journey. Don’t be a dud.