Last week I got a beautiful vase full of long-stemmed roses from a client. I must admit that I don’t get all the credit. It was to both my senior partner and to me. Our client’s sweet card said, “Just something to show how much I appreciate all your help in my dilemma.”
This client pays us for our service, and we expect nothing more. But it is the sheer unexpectedness of it that makes this kind of gift such a pleasure to receive. He is a wonderful older man who is, indeed, in a dilemma. We are working hard for him but certainly he did not have to do this. Just look at them!
Although it is not typical for me to get gifts above my fee, neither is it rare. In our business, many times there is a personal bond forged as we steer folks through some very trying problems. It makes me feel like I’ve done a job well when a client feels moved to give me something more personal.
Just last month I received this necklace.
It is hand-made by a client and came in a little jewelry box with foam flowers pasted across the top. It has earrings to match, but I left them at the office and could not include them in the photo. On the box she had written me a sweet note, wishing me enjoyment of my new jewelry. I wear this necklace all the time and I think of my client, who I know is on the mend from several years of woe. I greatly appreciate the need for her to “get personal.”
Over the decades of my law practice, I have received gifts of hams, homemade summer sausage, homemade Christmas goodies, tins of cookies, an ink pen that wrote with gold ink and many other wonderful mementoes. But one client gift which just stands out is something I never expected to receive from a client. This gift came during some of my darkest days of domestic trial—during the depths of my “zombie state,” if you will. And there’s a little back-story:
Some of the ladies in my church had conspired against me. They knew that I was grief-stricken over my husband’s betrayal (yet again), and that my marriage was in its last stages. There was a women’s retreat the weekend coming up, which I intended to avoid at all costs (intending, instead, to go to the cave). The conspirators came together, purchased my place at the retreat and gathered to force me to go. Truly, I felt that I had no choice. I was rather grumped up about it.
That grumpiness was not helped by an e mail I received on the day I was to leave for the retreat. Just before going to Court for the afternoon, I checked email and found this: “Tonight at the first meeting following dinner, we will have ‘show and tell.’ Please bring with you an item that makes you feel special.”
Well, you just try out having your husband leave you for someone thirty years younger and then try to find something to make you feel special! This is a challenge, to say the least…I left for Court grumpier than ever, dreading the “Show and Tell” session, knowing I’d have nothing to share. This was just not something I wanted to do. As I tried my case that afternoon sort of on auto-pilot, I kept running that Show and Tell scene through my mind. It really began to worry me…until I arrived back at the office.
There on my desk was a box. There was a little note on top that said, “Because you are special.” It was from a client. I opened it, and this is what was inside:
Would you have ever thought a client would buy her lawyer a pair of shoes???!!! No way! But she had determined some time earlier that I needed these cute shoes with the flowers all over. She had seen that I often slip my shoes off in the office and pad around in bare feet. She had asked my assistants to find a time when I did this and check my shoes for the right size. She went right out and bought me a pair. I swear, it lifted my spirits like nothing you’ve ever seen. I think these shoes might have been sent by God. And at just the right time!
I packed the shoes up and drove off to the retreat that very afternoon. After dinner we all gathered and pulled out trinkets to share. I was the only one showing off shoes, and I modeled them for the ladies, telling them my story. Everyone got such a charge out of it, and I wore them the entire retreat, jeans and all.
I refer to them now as my “magic slippers.” They aren’t ruby slippers like in the Wizard of Oz movie, but just like Dorothy’s slippers, they had the power to transport me. I think it’s just a case of “God moves in mysterious ways.” Sometimes through magic shoes! C
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