When clients ask me about the legal process and what to expect from me as their attorney, I usually give them the following ranger-in-the-national-park analogy.

The legal system is like a huge national park.  Think of it as Yosemite, or Yellowstone, or The Grand Canyon, or any other vast open space that comes to mind.  As an attorney, I am your park ranger, and I’ve worked in this huge natural vast open space called the legal system for more than twenty years.  Now, do I know every square inch of this vast open space?  No.  No one could.  But, I am familiar enough with this vast open space to know how to guide you from one part of it to the other.

While my job as your park ranger is to help you get around the park, I am not the one to tell you the “best” way to reach your destination.  The only person who can determine the “best” way to reach your destination is you; I can only guide you along the way.  Let’s say you’re at the park entrance and you want to get to End of Litigation Lookout.  I, as your park ranger, cannot tell you “the” way or “the best way” to get to your destination (and anyone who tells you they can isn’t being honest).  There is no way for me to step into your skin and determine what’s “best” for you.

What I can do is, tell you the options you have to get to your desired destination.  I may tell you that there is a direct path you could take, but that direct path is expensive and part of it leads you directly in front of the entrance of a cave which is the home of a very mean and aggressive bear known to totally annihilate anyone who disturbs its peace and quiet.  The bear may or may not be at home, may or may not be hibernating, and may or may not come out; but if it’s home and if comes out, there is nothing I can do to protect you from it.  On the other hand, there is a less-direct route to where you want to go, which takes more time but is less costly than the direct path and goes nowhere near the bear cave (so you avoid all that risk), and this other path takes more effort and energy on your part than the more direct route.  So, which path is “best” for you?  Only you can make that decision.  But once made, it’s my role to guide you along whichever path you choose to reach your destination.  And off we go.

Is it possible that you may want to reconsider your chosen path through the legal system?  Of course, and this happens frequently.  Sometimes, the path can be easily re-routed; other times, the terrain of the path originally chosen makes shifting direction a bit more challenging.  Yet other times, it isn’t a matter of changing paths so much as it is the need to take a moment to stop, rest, and recharge in order to continue onwards.  As your guide, my job is to advise you of the cost and potential consequences and risks associated with the actions you want to take, let you decide how you want to proceed, and then guide you accordingly.  Together, we can get you to the destination you choose.

By the way, the view from End of Litigation Lookout is wonderful.

This publication is not intended to provide legal advice.