A blupete Essay

On Giving Advice, Part 4 to blupete's Essay
"An Essay On Lawyers"

"Advice is not disliked because it is advice; but because so few people know how to give it." (Leigh Hunt, "The Indicator," 1821.)

"I should not trust the counsel of a smart debater, any more than that of a good chess-player. Either may of course advise wisely, but not necessarily because he wrangles or plays well. Some of the sharpest men in argument are notoriously unsound in judgment." (Holmes, Breakfast-Table.)

It seems, then, that the best lawyer to give the advice in respect to taking or defending a suit at law may not be the best lawyer to see it through the courts. Whoever is giving advice in respect to the chances of success, should, figuratively speaking, pour liberal doses of cold water on the heated up client and put all the emphasis on the downside.
"'You know,' says Mr. Vholes, 'that I never give hopes, sir. I told you from the first, Mr. C., that I never give hopes.'" (Dickens, Bleak House.)
Though writing of doctors, what W. Robert Nicoll said of them applies to all professional people, and most certainly to lawyers:8
"If I were a medical man I think I should listen attentively to what patients say about themselves. I should do more than this, I should ask them questions about their symptoms. On one occasion after illness I walked over to consult Sir Andrew Clark. He saw, I dare say, that I was extremely nervous, and I knew that he was the busiest of men. He said, "Do not hurry. Tell me everything, I want to hear it, I have plenty of time. I wish to go into your case thoroughly." The reassurance given by these words was indescribable. From that moment I gave my heart to Sir Andrew, and was his scrupulously obedient patient for five years, and found everything he said came true.
I have known doctors who in answer to questions about food would say "Oh, it does not matter, anything you may prefer." If I were a doctor I should not answer in that way. I respectfully assure medical men that there are multitudes whose supreme desire is for a director. If I were a doctor I should adopt a confident manner, a manner as confident as circumstances will permit; the doctor who hesitates is lost.
Short snappers:
  • "We ask advice, but we mean approbation." (Charles Caleb, c.1780-1832, Lacon, 1820-2.)
  • "Never give advice in a crowd." (Arabian Proverb.)
  • "Bought advice is worth twice that of free advice." (Irish Proverb.)
  • "Give neither counsel nor salt till you are asked for it." (Italian Proverb.)
  • "Advice on the event, after the event, is needless." (Danish Proverb.)
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