With the growing trend of clients attacking lawyers with pencils, it’s only natural that you begin to ask practice management gurus like us for help. As in, what should you do to protect yourself from pencil-wielding clients? It’s a fascinatingly nuanced question and, luckily, something we think about often. Here’s our advice.
Quit the Law
Honestly, with billions of 1) pencils and 2) clients in the world, why bother continuing to practice within the context of daily danger? If you cannot competently represent a client under Rule 1.1, it’s a good time to walk away. While you can try to eliminate or reduce the number of pencils in the office, remember that the Second Amendment—and the trend of legislation in most states—allows clients to conceal and carry pencils. It’s a losing battle, especially if the battle is against pencils. And thus it may be as good a reason as any to abandon the law.
If walking away from your practice is not an option—or if you want a reason to walk away later—try appearing in court and meeting clients wearing appropriate body armor. For the artisanal lawyer, we recommend full-on battle armor and chain mail, generally available from Costco or from law-related Samurai vendors. If you want to be more modern and styling, consider hooking up with paintball enthusiasts or LARPers. They’ll have the best approach to protecting yourself against pencils and, come to think of it, duct-taped wooden swords.
Hire Transportation Security Officers
Former or current Transportation Safety Administration screening officers would make a great addition to your staff and would provide added protection, security, and general cocktail-hour conversation. We recently hired a former Denver airport TSA agent and, despite a mixup initially over his interpretation of “orifice,” things seem to be going at least in the right direction now. So far, four pencils confiscated, one in a client’s Afro. But if overt security is not your thing, consider hiring one of TSA’s Behavior Detection Officers, who screen for “involuntary physical and physiological reactions that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered.” Bingo. Has client written all over it.
Remember, despite the increased threat of pencil-wielding clients, you still have options. Talk to us. Talk to the thousands of attorneys who have taken our advice. But at least be aware of the danger and the need to protect yourself against it. Good luck. And be safe.