Now Is the Time to Decide
It’s a pleasure to be here. I envy the ability that you have as part of your college curriculum to meet together in the name of the Savior and to learn truth, because truth has no boundaries. One of the great abilities we have is to have the Holy Ghost bear witness to us of truth. Truth is not just the kind of things we talk about at church on Sunday. As it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, we are commanded to study out of the best books.
I’d like to start today with a question, and it’s a question that I was asked many times as a small child. It’s a question that, if you’re like me, you were asked many times as a small child and it’s certainly one that I asked a lot of my friends as a small child. It’s very simple, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I’d like to change the emphasis of that a little bit to say, “What are you going to be………when you grow up?”
Think about that question as we talk for a few minutes about success and about happiness and about the things that we do to have success and happiness, the fleeting moments in our lives and the small things that really do make a difference.
Speaking of fleeting moments, I was coming home from meetings the other night and I pulled into my driveway, got out of the car, and grabbed my brief case. I looked into the window from the driveway, and I could see right through the dining room into the living room. I noticed through those windows my eleven-year-old daughter, Emily. She was in her beautiful Sunday dress. It was dark outside so she didn’t know that I could see her and there she was twirling around as young girls do in princess dresses. I stopped for a moment and thought, “This is one of those fleeting moments.”
Our lives are full of fleeting moments. What we do with those moments is of paramount importance. What I just shared is only one example, but I’m going to talk a little bit about moments and about hinge moments in particular, because you will all face hinge moments. By that I mean what President Hinckley meant when he talked recently about hinges in our lives, those moments on which very important events in our lives turn. Very important character traits are developed and so forth.
I could also ask you about rudders and helms and who or what controls the helm of your life, or who or what you allow to turn the rudder. Our lives are somewhat like ships and, as we are taught in modern revelation, just as a small helm controls a very large vessel so, too. do small things control large things in our lives. There is a great debate in our society, in every avenue and every area that you can imagine, about whether or not the environment controls, or whether we control. I want you to think about that for a minute as I tell you one experience I had.
When I was a first-year law student I had a professor at the University of Utah who was a very good professor; he was one of my favorites. His name is Tom Lund. He is still there, and he still teaches torts. I showed up for my first day of law school after the week-long introductory course where they tell you how scary it is going to be. I showed up my first day and went to Professor Lund’s class. When I got there I was full of anticipation and some trepidation. Professor Lund had a reputation for being a master of the Socratic Method and if you know anything about the Socratic Method or about Socrates, you know that he taught using questions. Professor Lund never answered the questions. He just posed the questions and required the students to think. He took that to the nth degree. He would pose a question and then say, “How’s about them apples, Mr. Welch?” and there you are on the stand in front of all your peers and colleagues. So I was looking forward to this with some trepidation and because of that, this event which would otherwise be unimportant, has stuck in my mind.
I’m going to try to make it something far more profound then I am sure Professor Lund ever anticipated. He asked a simple question and he made a simple observation. He said, “What did you do for your summer vacation?” I thought, “Wow, that’s not what I anticipated my first question would be in this Socratic method class. Then he said, “Well, Mr. Welch, the reason I ask that question is if I were to ask you to write an essay right now on that question and I said that you will be graded on creativity and on cogent thinking and on reasoning skills and the ability to communicate them, the grade I give you on that paper today, right here, right now will be substantially identical to the grade I will give you on your final examination in three months in this very class.”
His statement caught me by surprise. It didn’t seem right to me, and I’ve thought a lot about that since. I came to the conclusion that Professor Lund was largely correct with one major exception, one major caveat if you will. He was correct in that I had already brought to the class who I was. I had prepared myself to some degree to be there, but what he was missing was I had control over the next three months of my study habits, of how well I listened in class, of the skills that I honed, and my reasoning ability. I had control and he was giving no credit for that.
There is a scripture in modern day revelation. It’s one of my favorites, and you all know this. It’s in the Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28. It says, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of there own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness…….For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise loose their reward.”
I believe that and I’m sure that you believe that. If that is true then Professor Lund was incorrect in one major respect. I’m sure he didn’t mean to be profound with his statement; he was just playing with me on the first day of law school.
Let me talk about some key issues. These key issues are going to include the following: first and foremost—integrity, or as Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” When I say key issues, I’m talking about in your professional life. Based on my experience as a trial attorney, which is a pretty hard hitting profession and sometimes can be a very cynical profession, I have found that these keys are of paramount importance. There is no difference between their application spiritually and their application in a professional setting for things that really matter.
Second, I want to talk a little bit about priorities and the need to set them, the need to know what it is you want and why it is you want that. Or, as I would put it, remember who you are. “Remember who you are,” is something my mother, who is here today, often said to me as a young boy.
Third, I want to talk a little bit about the law of the harvest. You know what the law of the harvest is, or as they say it on the farm where I grew up, “There ain’t no substitute for hard work.” There are no short cuts in life. Don’t spend any time in life looking for them. The rewards are there for short cuts, but they’re artificial, they’re not the real thing, or as they also said on the farm, “There ain’t no cows going to milk themselves” and, “There ain’t no crops going to harvest themselves and there certainly ain’t no carrot going to grow from a bean seed.”
The Lord put it more articulately when He said, “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” In the Book of Mormon it says what you put in you’re going to get out. That is true in life, it’s true in your profession, it’s true in the work place and it’s true in the most important relationships that we have in life. Just ask my wife. She’ll tell you that marriage is hard work. She’s married to me so it’s probably harder for her than it is for most people.
Integrity. To thine own self be true. This is a principle that I’d like to illustrate with a case I was involved in as a trial attorney. I was made a partner in 1995. I finally had some of my own clients. I was starting to develop my own practice. I was very busy. While I was trying to develop my own clients we had a very important institutional client, Geneva Steel. Many of you know Geneva Steel; they had been a client of my firm since 1987.
One of my partners left, and I was asked to step into this very important case that involved a hundred and ten million dollars. I was required to prioritize and make some decisions very quickly. But that’s not what I want to tell you about. I just wanted to give you that as context, because I want to tell you about an individual from BYU. He was an MBA student. I’ll call him Bill; that’s not his real name .He was a fine individual and has become an example to me and I’ll tell you why.
In January 1996 there was a very unique pattern of weather events that occurred over the Great Salt Lake. We have weather patterns that are unique and rare over the Great Salt Lake all the time. But what was rare about this particular event was that the winds stirred up salt from the west desert, and mixed the salt from the lake with stone and rain. The precipitation moved it across the Tooele Valley, across the South Salt Lake Valley, and across all of Utah Valley, coating much of the area with a thick, milky substance that had salt in it and when it dried it was like concrete. It covered windshields, it covered windows, it caused accidents, it was a real problem. In the context of this case, it also coated substations, the insulators and the breakers that are at those substations at Utah Power and Light, causing massive power outages, mostly across Utah Valley.
Geneva Steel is located at the heart of Utah Valley. Back then it was operational; it was a fully functional steel mill. It had coke ovens that required power to keep them from eating themselves. A coke oven is twelve inches wide, 20 feet high, about 30 feet long and it’s connected side by side with 50 other coke ovens in a battery. Geneva Steel had four batteries of coke ovens. They operated anywhere from 2000 to 3200 degrees. Separating those individual ovens are silica brick, rows of silica brick that expand and contract with the heat and keep the oven from falling apart. If you can’t exhaust the pressure that builds up, an enormous amount of pressure builds up that’s going to go somewhere. So having power to exhaust these coke ovens and coke batteries becomes critical. The night of the storm they ran out of power. Fortunately, Geneva Steel had at the time a fifty mega watt generator. The generator kicked in and was just fine.
The generator is designed for this very purpose; it happens all the time. Steel mills have to have back up generation. The generator kicked in and “Bill” (not his real name) was in the control room that night at 2:00 a.m., January 1996. He notices UP&L goes off line. No problem. He looks at all of his charts and the others that are with him look at the charts and there are literally hundreds of charts in the control room, about the size of this room. He looks over at the clock, which is one of the gauges, and in a moment of panic, he concludes from that chart that the generator has separated from its own load.
If you know anything about electrical engineering, you know what will happen very quickly if someone doesn’t reconnect the load is that the generator will power down, the steam turbines will go down and there is no way to restart them. The mill will start to eat itself, and Bill, knowing this makes a decision as he is supposed to do, being the control room operator. He thinks the generator is off line so he has seconds to get it online or the generator is down. Bill trips the switch. But in fact, Bill had misread the gauge. The generator was functioning perfectly, it had done what it was supposed to do. The gauges were operational. Bill had simply misread the gauge. So when he tripped the switch he literally separated the generator from its load and it powered down and now Geneva was dying, literally, and people were at serious risk of injury.
The power house right next to Bill has three-story high generators with steam turbines. These things are enormous and there are four of them. When power runs out and when the steam turbines power down, all the water and the steam has to drain. It comes down and drains and you’re left with several feet of water at the bottom with electrical connections everywhere. There were men running through the power house, trying to disconnect the electrical connections before people were killed. There were men on top of the coke batteries running with their boots melting beneath them, trying to unscrew the lids manually before they shot off. Fifty of them out of two hundred blew off. Forty-pound lids screwed down, steel to steel, blew off and there were torches shooting fifty feet in the air. This was a serious problem, and it was put into action by a simple, innocent, honest mistake by one individual.
The investigations began, my firm was contacted, and I was one of the investigators. This is one of the things I enjoy about my job because I get to see forensically how people react. I get to look back over the event in a cool setting and pick it apart and decide how those involved reacted. I got to know Bill a little bit and know what he is like under the face of enormous pressure. By some miracle and by heroic efforts of many, no one was killed that night. Bill told the simple truth, he had a choice and he told the simple truth. I call it the simple truth because if Bill had cast a web that evening—and he could have easily—he was in a situation to make it look as if it was a mistake. Imagine if he had cast that web how difficult it would have been, with government and safety agencies investigating, with attorneys investigating, with insurance companies investigating.
The story has a happy ending because Bill’s honesty in that particular case paid off, believe it or not. Contrary to what his fears must have been, nobody blamed him. His co-workers didn’t say, “How could you have, how dare you cause me to risk my life.” Nobody said that. Rather, an unexpected result came to fruition. The insurance coverage for Geneva Steel covered operator error. This insurance coverage did not cover acts of God or rain storms or snow storms. If he had attempted to cover it up, he actually would have ended up hurting himself or his employer. That doesn’t always happen. Bill demonstrated great integrity in the face of enormous pressure, which is what I am suggesting, which is badly needed in our workplace today and in your profession. Integrity is number one.
I have a partner, his name is Clark Waddoups. He has practiced law roughly twice as long as I have. I have been his partner for 14 years. His name is in our firm Par Waddoups, and so he is a named, prestigious partner in our law firm. When Clark learned I was speaking today, he said, “Tell them about my two rules.” I’m going to tell you about Mr. Waddoups' two rules. These two rules are ingrained into us as we come into the firm. They are very simple and are of equal, paramount importance.
Number one: The most important asset that we have as attorneys is our own personal integrity and our reputation for that integrity. When I was a younger attorney and I tried cases with him, as I was going off to court Clark would remind me, “I’ve worked for many years to have my reputation for integrity. Don’t mess it up. Be honest because you’ll develop a reputation.”
Number two: The only thing we should ever deliver faster than good news to our client is bad news. You need to think about that rule for a minute, because what it means is, own up, take responsibility, be accountable. If you make a mistake, don’t hide it. Take responsibility for it. That is so crucial in today’s world. I would commend those rules to you; they are very important.
Let’s talk for a minute about Abraham Lincoln. We all know him. There is a story about Abraham Lincoln that I love. He was an attorney and he was one of my heroes. Abraham was tutoring a young law student. The law student asked him what people ask me all the time, “How can you be an honest lawyer?” Abraham Lincoln turned the question back around to the individual and said words to the effect: “Oh, I’m honest.. Honesty transcends profession.” And then he stated these famous words, quote, “First be honest. And if you cannot be an honest lawyer, than be honest without being a lawyer.” I would tell you the same thing. If you, knowing yourself, cannot be an honest business person, then be honest without being a business person. In other words, your priorities need to be in that order.
I stand as a witness to tell you that you can be an honest business person. You have the power. Decide now, decide once. Decide now that you are going to be honest. If you do not decide now, just like the ship where no one is holding unto its helm, which is controlled by the wind and the waves, the wind and the waves will decide for you. You don’t want that to happen. Not only that, if you don’t decide now, then you will decide under very difficult circumstances. You will decide when confronted with a choice, like Bill’s, with a salt storm in your own life. That’s a difficult time to decide if you haven’t already. And you’ll have to decide, over and over again. Decide now.
I don’t want to suggest to you that there aren’t people in the world who benefit from being less than honest, because there are. In fact, in Alma the Lord tells us, “I, the Lord, grant unto men according to their desires, whether they be good or whether they be evil and men are free to chose captivity and death according to the plan of the adversary or to chose liberty and life, according to the plan of the great mediator.”
If that’s true, then the next topic is crucial: Priorities. What are they? What are our priorities? Let me give you a quote from a business magazine that I found the other day. This comes from The Organized Executive which is a business news letter magazine. It says this: “The sense of control in the work place is becoming more elusive.” That is true! Remember that personal control thing? You have power that is becoming more elusive, according to this magazine, due to meetings, interruptions, deadlines, computer problems, staffing issues, information overload, travel schedules, e-mails. I get 350 emails on average every day. Boy, you can get overloaded with that. You can feel like you are spinning out of control and the situation is only worsening. Professionals must compete in an escalating time to do more with less.
Effective time management has become an urgent priority for both workplace performance and personal sanity. In some professions, such as an accounting profession, or if you are going into law, you bill your time as a general rule, and so you have to keep track. In most cases you bill every six minutes. I bill my time in tenths of an hour. If my hourly rate is $250, a tenth of an hour is $25. I need to be prepared to explain to you why it cost you $25 and what exactly I did to help you during that time.
I know many of you are in the accounting profession, so what do you do? How do we deal with that? Well that’s not an easy question to answer. But I believe with all my heart, having done it now for 14 years, that if you prioritize and rank priorities in your life, you will be in control. In fact I’d like to give you a couple of quips from people who have done that.
The CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, refuses to work late if he’s made a commitment to his children. Wow, that’s a novel concept. But that’s not uncommon. The vice chair of the board of Columbia TriStar motion pictures works four days a week. She spends Fridays with her family. Lucy Fisher is her name. John Malone who is a tele-communications mogul, works five hours a day. He drives home for lunch. Jill Barad who works for Mattel as the CEO, ritualistically goes home to watch ER and X-files with her husband and children. I’m not suggesting to you that ER and X-files are the answer. I’m not suggesting that four-day work weeks are the answer, or that five-hour work days are the answer, because in the real world, for people working your way up, that’s not the answer. What I am suggesting to you is that you are in control of what the answer is.
If I can just give you this suggestion on prioritizing: Write down a list—and this requires a lot of thought—of twelve items that you encounter on a week-to-week basis. Then prioritize those items in order of importance, based on your values, based on your life situation. Then work on them in that order. You will have done much to prioritize your time. If you do that every week, you’ll find that your thoughts become your actions. As President McKay told us, “Your actions will become your habits, your habits will become your character and your character will determine your destiny.” You have control, but do it now. Don’t wait. Get started.
In my profession I write all the time, briefs or letters or papers, and the hardest thing about writing is the first draft. Did you ever notice that? The first draft is hard to do, isn’t it? But if you don’t do the first draft, you never get it done. That is an example, it’s a type of accomplishing difficult things. What you need to do is to pick out the most difficult part, and start right there. Don’t wait. Start it now and accomplish the most difficult part.
If you reflect back on your life to times when you felt a sense accomplishment, to times when you were at peace with yourself, to times when you have been happy, you’ll find often it’s after you have accomplished something very difficult. You feel best when you face up to that responsibility.
Have you ever heard of a guy named Aristotle? Of course you have. You know Aristotle, the great philosopher. He said, “Happiness resides in activity.” Isn’t that interesting? Both physical and mental, he said.
President Hinckley said it this way, and I love this comment, “I love the gospel of work.” What does “gospel” mean? It means good news. Can you imagine a prophet telling us that he loves the good news of work. That’s a great thing. Adam was told in the Garden of Eden that by the sweat of his brow he will eat his bread all the days of his life. I don’t think that was a curse to Adam. I think it may have been a curse on the earth, but I think it was a blessing to Adam, because work and hard work often is a blessing. There is no substitute. The opposite of work, according to President Hinckley, is not leisure or play or having fun, but idleness. Idleness is the opposite of work. It is okay to play, it’s okay to have fun, it’s okay to have other activities. But work while you work and play while you play.
President Hinckley also said, “We simply cannot expect to refine the substance of character from the husks of pleasure.” Let me quote a poem on this and I’ll move on. There is a book that was famous in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century called McGuffey’s Primer. McGuffey’s Primer was apparently required reading for most students for public schools in those days and it would be good reading I think for those of us who try to mix business with pleasure. I’ve been guilty of that from time to time, and sometimes it’s a good thing. For example, have you ever tried to do homework while watching TV? I know I have. I’ve been there, I understand. My wife maybe will cringe at this because I have done this: Have you ever taken a pager with you to a movie theatre? Here’s the poem: “Work while you work, play while you play; One thing each time, that is the way; All that you do, do with your might; Things done by halves are not done right.” Isn’t that great? I love simple, profound things like that.
Teddy Roosevelt said, “In this life we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present merely means there has been stored up efforts in the past. But if one treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labor as a period not of preparation but of mere enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer on the earth’s surface and is unfit to hold his own with his fellows if the need to labor again arises. I preach to you, my country men, that our country calls not for the life of ease but for the life of strenuous endeavor.”
Let’s talk briefly about attitude. Remembering who you are is part of that, and remembering that you are in control. In my office I keep a picture just over my credenza. It’s a print. My mom has the original in her home. It’s the dairy farm where I grew up, and I do that because it reminds me of where I came from. It reminds me not only of the place but of the ancestors, of my grandparents and my parents and their hard work to give me the opportunities that I have now. It reminds me who I am. It helps me remember as I set priorities; it’s an attitude check during a hectic day for me.
I remember a business class in college. It was taught by Professor McKay; it was a business management class. He taught us about marketing and he taught us about interpersonal relationships in the business world. He was a case study person. He was also Socratic. He gave us case studies about Coca Cola and Pepsi and those kinds of things and advertising and we learned a lot about slogans. I don’t know if any of you have been in those kinds of classes. Labels and slogans are powerful in advertising, they’re powerful in political campaigns. They’re powerful in a lot of settings, but they are very dangerous as well, especially if we apply them to people and especially if we apply them to ourselves.
Have you ever been labeled? Has somebody ever said, “That is just kind of the way he is?” Have you ever said, “That is just kind of the way I am?” Fair self-analysis is okay as long as you are not thinking “That is the way I always will be.” You have power, if your attitude is correct, to change that. To change the hand you have been dealt in life is to actually become the one holding the helm and turning the rudder. You are using the same wind and waves that are directing the people who aren’t holding the rudder, but you’re steering through those same winds and waves. Attitude is huge.
We’ve all heard about Thomas Edison, who was called a dullard in school. His teacher said, “He will never amount to anything.” That is a direct quote from his teacher in public education. Wow, was she off. But what if he had believed that label? We would have a different world today, wouldn’t we? General Electric probably wouldn’t exist.
Pestalozzi was Italy’s foremost educator. (President Hinckley recounted this one in his book.) He was dubbed the “dumb ox” in school. France’s impeccable writer, Fleuber, was told when he was young that he could not read. He struggled with reading, but he learned, and he became a very good writer.
James Earl Jones, with the deep voice, was Darth Vader with that deep, very beautiful voice that is so articulate. He had a speech impediment as a young child and his attitude and his mother’s encouragement got him over it. My own father overcame a speech impediment as a child.
Let me close where I started, and if there are any questions I’d be more than happy to take them. What do you want to be when you grow up? Because now is the time to decide: Am I going to be honest? What is my attitude? How hard am I willing to work at the things that really matter to me? Elder Scott said, “One of Satan’s greatest tools in our day is to convince us to fill our lives so full of good things that there’s not time for the essential ones.” So what are they? What are my habits? What are my thoughts? What am I going to work on? What am I going to take control over, and become anxiously engaged in changing?
President Hinckley, in 1999, said, “Do you realize what we have? Do you recognize our place in the great drama of human history. This is the focal point of all that has gone before; this is the greatest of all ages of human endeavor and human accomplishment. We stand on the summit of the ages, awed by a great and solemn sense of history.”
While we stand on that summit—the ages of this world—let us take advantage of all the good that is before us. We ought to learn from the great minds of the past. Let us attempt to understand the mistakes and frailties of prior generations so we are not bound to repeat them in our own lives. Let us, in standing where we stand now, not forget the seemingly simple things that engender greatness, those little hinge moments. What are we going to do when confronted? How honest are we going to be in the work place? I would tell you that one of the great privileges I have as a trial lawyer is to be forensically involved in investigating cases. I see time and again, in deposition after months of investigation, where I’ve put together what I think is the critical lie, if you will.
I see that day of reckoning for people who have in the short term gained treasures of the earth by lying. That day of reckoning comes, whether it comes in this life because it doesn’t always, but it often does, or it comes in the next. That day of reckoning, if you’ve chosen to be less than impeccably honest, is not a good place to be. The end of that road is not a pleasant place and I’ve seen that again and again and again.
The Savior said, “Whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap.” That doesn’t only apply to the treasures in Heaven that He said are available and that we should store up for ourselves in Heaven. It also applies to here and now. The peace which the Savior promised, which surpasses understanding, is available only, whether in business, in life, or in relationships, through honesty, through integrity, and through being true to who we are. The definition of integrity is acting in accordance with our beliefs. I submit that as we study and learn from the ages, we will find truth in the great adage found in the Book of Mormon, that out of small things proceeds that which is great. It is these small things that create our character and define it. Ultimately these things of every day life make up most of our selves. My advice is simple then. Recognize who you are right now and decide who you want to be. The power is yours. Be true to yourself and to the person that you want to be, and I know and testify that success and happiness will follow if you will do that, in the name of Jesus Christ amen.
Questions from students:
“Would you defend someone you know is guilty?”
I don’t do any criminal law. I practice in the civil arena and I find, not withstanding some of the stories I’ve told you, that for the most part humanity is good and for the most part the disputes that I resolve are disputes that are honest disputes between people who simply have different understanding and different perspectives. I have defended people who have lost, and I have been on the other side where people have had a very strong feeling about a claim and have lost. Fortunately I have been on more winning sides, but it is a difficult question to answer because I don’t do any criminal law.
“Do you know when someone is lying to you?”
I can usually tell, although not immediately. The truth almost always comes out in our adversaries system. In one form or another, and in those cases, usually the case settles before the trial. I see my role sort of like Abraham Lincoln did and that is a resolver of disputes.
“Are you required to have a lawyer to go to court?”
Very few cases actually go to trial and in most cases you do not need a lawyer. Many people like to use lawyers. We like to think as lawyers that we are good dispute resolvers. You can always defend yourself in your country if the claim is against you as an individual. You cannot defend a corporation without an attorney.
“What is the growing effect of mediation in terms of legal disputes?”
It continues to grow in popularity. I have done about a hundred mediations in fourteen years and fewer than a tenth of that many trials. Mediations are great things because it is voluntary, unlike arbitration, which is essentially a trial with a chosen judge. A mediator is someone who helps you come to the table. They help you bridge the gap and after a case has ripened, after the facts have developed to some degree, mediation is always something I encourage. It is a very good thing. It saves a lot of time, saves a lot of money and the only people who win when you go to trial in most cases are the lawyers. That is not a good thing for our society. It is not a good thing for the legal profession ultimately and so mediation is a great way to resolve disputes.
“What are your feelings about the Book of Mormon and lawyers?”
That’s a great question. In fact, I have to tell you about when I showed for my first day of law school. I went to my introductory course. The professor stood up and after he scared us to death about how average we were, he quoted Brigham Young and what he said about lawyers and where they are going. I’m not sure how to answer the question as it pertains to the Book of Mormon, but there were lawyers who did a lot of damage in the Book of Mormon. There were lawyers in the Savior’s time who did a lot of damage and we have that happening right now in our society. We should recognize that lawyers do have power and that is why I believe that integrity and impeccable honesty is absolutely essential in the legal profession. As I have worked in the community, honesty is largely present among the attorneys, which surprises a lot of people. But that has been my experience.
“How do you work in a world where everybody around you has to lie for their clients? How can you be honest with your dealings with your fellow men?”
Good question. My personal creed is that I am not going to twist the facts and I always tell my clients when we come in, I don’t care what the facts are as long as I know them. Be honest with me, don’t hide something. If down the road I find something that they lied about, that breaks that relationship of trust and I have to sit down very directly with them and tell them, this doesn’t work unless I trust you and you trust me. That is my own personal creed. Are there those who perhaps view it differently? Probably. Contrary to popular belief, most lawyers don’t go in and encourage their clients to lie. In fact, that would be a crime to do that. It would be grounds for disbarment if it was proven. That doesn’t happen as often as I think the public tends to believe. Those cases do happen and they get all kinds of public attention and they are inappropriate. But you have to have that personal creed, you have to say what I will and won’t do. I won’t work for just anyone, and if I think you’re lying to me I’m going to tell you that, and I’m going to tell you that it’s not going to work, I require that full disclosure in initial interviews with clients. The same would be true in any business setting.
“What do you think of pro-bono work?”
Being a lawyer is the only profession I know of that is required to sell the only thing it has to sell for free and that is our time. It is the only thing we have to sell as lawyers. We are required to sell some of our time for free and I love doing that. When I was a young lawyer I was involved in a program called Tuesday Night Bar. We would show up on Tuesday night down at the Law and Justice Center and anybody could come in and ask us anything. I always make it a point to have something going on pro bono. I did a case in Southern Utah for a young girl who had been abused from the time she was six years old until she was seventeen by a pediatrician. I did that case for free. It was a horrible, gut wrenching case and I helped her get some counseling and I helped get the doctor out of the state of Utah and things like that. Those things are essential and you should look for those opportunities in your profession because the world needs us and when we’ve been given so much we should give something back. Thank you for your time.