Accents are interesting. Most evolve organically due to linguistic influences in a particular region. A notable exception is the “Transatlantic” or “Mid-Atlantic” accent. Simply put, the accent is as phony as a three-dollar bill. It is a fake accent that was artificially developed in the early 20th century. The artificial form of speech attempted to incorporate elements of what was considered the best of both British and American English. It was frequently taught at exclusive prep and finishing schools in the northeastern United States. Later it was used to train many actors and actresses during the golden age of cinema. The goal was to create a sophisticated accent for the perceived upper crust of American society. FDR, Bette Davis and many other notable Americans embraced the use of the accent. While the accent is no longer taught, there still are some who like to emulate it in order to try to appear sophisticated.
Many years back I ran into a group of fellows at a reception who were using such a dialect. They were affiliated with a prestigious museum somewhere on the eastern seaboard. We spoke long enough for them to “qualify” me as someone not worthy of their time as I was a mere lawyer from Macon, Georgia. This did not bother me in the slightest as I have little time to waste with people who are not authentic. A server then came by offering hors d’oeuvres to all of us. I asked the young lady where she hailed from. She replied that she was from Bulgaria. I then proceeded to speak to her in Bulgarian. While not fluent in the language I knew enough to engage in a bit of small talk which she appreciated. A look of shock came over one of the snobs with the fake accent. He exclaimed “YOU speak Bulgarian”? Using the best fake Transatlantic accent I could muster I looked him in the eye and replied “Of course, doesn’t everyone these days?” I then proceeded to walk away and left him with a befuddled look on his face.
The legal lesson here is that one should not give a knee jerk reaction and make a hasty decision when evaluating the legal needs of a potential client. A lawyer investigating a potential claim should both listen to the needs of a potential client as well as ask relevant follow up questions. It is not uncommon for a client to call with a particular legal concern only to learn from the dialog with a lawyer that there is another legal issue and remedy that the potential client had not thought about. Countless examples come to mind. For brevities sake I will share one. A lady called several law firms about her automobile that had been repossessed. None of the lawyers she called would talk to her as they did not handle such matters. I took the call and asked her why the car had been repossessed. It turns out her husband owned the car and he passed away. When I learned the tragic facts of how he passed away I informed the lady that she had a wrongful death lawsuit. She hired me to represent her in that case and a substantial recovery was made for her.
A flip side to this equation is that while a potential client needs to be heard, they also need to take a breath and allow a lawyer to ask them questions which they should answer. While most lawyers are fairly generous with their time, lawyers are not therapists and cannot devote too much time listening to venting and tirades. One should allow a lawyer to ask the questions they need to ask in order to determine if they can help a person. The amount of controversy is always a key question. People should realize that a lawyer cannot devote much time to a person with a $37 dispute. They further should not be offended when a lawyer refuses to give them an hour of free legal advice on such an issue. Still, when you think you need help with legal matters, call the one you can trust. Contact Chris today … click here.