The past week, we caught ourselves watching ‘Breaking Bad’ (uhm, in all honesty, we’ve watched it so many times than we could ever count on our fingers) and yet again, not only did it awaken the amateur litigator in us, but it also altered our sense of righteousness.
Speaking of this series, one of the best things about it was the stakes continued to rise every season with the introduction of a new twist making everything all the more exciting! Well, it was only in season 2, episode 8, when Saul Goodman – played by Bob Odenkirk – was introduced. Known for his low-budget TV ads, mirthful one-liners and lack of morals, he personified several qualities every barrister must adopt.
Goodman definitely is one such character who has set an example of an attorney who takes his traits and talents to the farthest. Nonetheless, only when you’ll take a little sneak peek behind those curtains will you be able to realise that there are countless lessons one can, in fact must, learn from him.
When you take a look beyond what Breaking Bad has embellished about Goodman, you’ll come across 3 lessons that you, as an attorney, must learn and implement in your practice. So, without further ado, let’s get going… maybe keep a pen and paper handy to take some notes!
Always think about the future…
“Didn’t you prepare yourself for this unforeseen event? I mean the Starship Enterprise had a self-destruct button. I’m just saying…”
During this scene, Goodman took Jesse and Walt to task for not being prepared and taking unpredictable eventualities into consideration (Just for the record… who was the client? Was it the criminal venture? Well, never mind!). Here, he was aware of the very fact that lack of preparation in the first place can either crop up intricate issues in the near future or simply leave one of them out of options to solve the problem.
Most of the cases come with difference of opinion, which can be easily prevented provided both the parties had prepared for the odds of it from happening. When the two parties have an argument regarding a specific contract, for example, that quarrel typically concerns an uncertainty or lack of language in the agreement that could solve the issue.
That being said, as an attorney you must always concentrate more on assisting your clients to be prepared for the problems they might face down the line, be it drafting a Will for them, coming up with a decision in the midst of a court case or settling for an acquisition. Bear in mind, being geared up from the very beginning always keeps all those headaches at bay!
Get your creative juices flowing!
Skyler White – “Do you even know Walt? I mean, how can he of all the people purchase a laser tag business? It does not add up.”
Saul Goodman – “It adds up perfectly. Walt’s a scientist. Scientists love lasers. Moreover, they got bumper boats, so…”
It goes without saying that Goodman was a pro at assisting clients uncover tricks to either hide or convert illegitimate cash into genuine profits. Here, keeping aside that unlawful guidance to take up a laser tag business in order to make legal those millions of dollars, we must for sure acknowledge the creativity of Goodman.
This surely doesn’t mean that being a lawyer you end up offering illegal advices. What you need to understand here is, whilst defending your client you might land in situations where applying the same thinking and tactics as other may not work. You’ve got to make every effort to come up with something outside the box for those often intricate issues. No doubt, you’ll have to put in tremendous amount of hard work to go against the grain, but the end result will definitely turn out to be of use for your client.
Take up your client’s issue as yours and get to the bottom of it…
“As to your dead guy, occupational hazard. Drug dealer getting shot? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s been known to happen.”
Saul is one such lawyer who knows how to take in hand a problem and get to the bottom of it (especially in Jesse’s and Walt’s case!). Knowing that they’ve have selected someone who can handle tough situations is perhaps one of those things that every client would appreciate.
Being a lawyer, you might often come across cases where the client has landed in a situation they don’t know to deal with or maybe have come up with ideas which they’re doubtful of applying. Well, here you’ve got to understand that your role is to presume and take up their issues. Of course, this will generate anxiety and stress, but that’s how an attorney’s life is.
Luckily, since barristers bump into such issues all the time and it’s nothing new for them, they can easily offer value and solve disputes by putting their knowledge and experience to use.
So, there we have it – our 3 legal lessons. Go ahead, binge-watch Breaking Bad and take a leaf out of Saul Goodman’s book!