It is impossible to know where the twists and turns in life will take us. I have always lived by that motto, as well as the motto to be as nice as possible to everyone because you just never know how a certain person will be involved in your life in future years. My spouse/business partner and I have been working for many decades and it is amazing to see how things and people change but how relationships established years ago evolve. I have had several interesting relationships that were sparked in non traditional ways: (1) one of my company’s clients is a person who was an undergraduate student and member of my research team when I was in graduate school; (2) one of my company’s clients is a former employee who worked for us between college and law school; (3) one of our consultants, who helps us on an as needed basis, was a colleague who generously allowed me to live in her home when I worked out of town many years ago; and (4) one of my good friends is the widow of a friend of mine who was unknown to me until after her husband’s passing. Buddy Payne, an attorney and dear friend who helped us during the formative years of our business and who has since passed away, always told my spouse/partner and me to “be nice to the person answering the phone because it is she/he who decides whether the boss will take your call.” That’s a great life lesson; you never know when, where, and how someone will turn up in your life, even after a long absence.
In contrast to the line from the song Paperlate by Genesis “There’s no need to be nice on the way up, cos you’re not coming down” the truth is you never know where things can lead so you’d better be nice on the way up, down, or sideways when dealing with support staff, associates, students, or, more generally, everyone. Buddy’s stories about the times his kindness to judicial assistants paid off always reminded me of this song and my reaction to that line. Maybe that philosophy works for Phil Collins, but we aren’t all Phil Collins. It was not hard for us to understand that we need to “be nice” and pay attention to the associate attorneys on a trial team. This came natural for me and Melissa, though it has not, in our observations, always been the way other trial consultants have treated everyone except the actual clients – the lead attorneys. After 20+ years in the business we have seen the associates turn into partners with cases of their own for which to hire us. We’ve seen associates, paralegals, and secretaries go from one firm to another and call us from the new place. And, while we were only being ourselves by being kind or respectful in our dealings with them, we have observed others treat these people without respectful decency. And, one can only hope that karma will get them and they won’t have the opportunity to work for those whom they have been disrespectful to in the long run. It’s much better to share the kindness and respect and reap the benefits of such actions.