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Your Most Rewarding Experience: Gratitude from Clients

By Sherri Knuth

When my sons were growing up, we had a book of blessings at the dining room table, and before every dinner, someone would choose a blessing. The shortest blessing in the book was “Gratitude is heaven itself,” and my sons said it over and over because it allowed them to get to the food faster! But I never grew tired of it because that simple phrase says so much.

This holiday season, we asked MSBA members to tell us the most rewarding experiences they have had related to legal practice. This week and next, we present a sampling of responses (with the name of the attorney where he or she chose to provide one.) The strongest theme was achieving results for clients and the gratitude expressed by clients:

Learning years later what his representation meant: “I ran into a former client in the courthouse and found her crying. She told me that her husband had unexpectedly died and she had no means to support herself or her two children and intended to put them up for adoption. I sent my investigator to Iowa where he uncovered the facts necessary for me to commence and prevail in a workers compensation death case which allowed my client to continue living with and providing for her two children.

Twenty years later I accidentally met her son in California where I had just moved. When he figured out who I was, he told me the entire story and how my efforts, for a very small fee, had allowed his mother to keep their family together and ultimately send her children to college. He told me that their family still revered me and talked about me all of the time. I've successfully handled hundreds of major cases for important clients including numerous celebrities but handling this little case was definitely the most rewarding experience I've ever had in my 59 years as an attorney.”

A graceful end to life: “The client experience that had the biggest impact on me was helping a terminally ill client explain her end of life decisions to her family. We all cried but they knew what she wanted and she passed away according to her own terms.”

Making a difference: “It is the many gratitudes of clients with mental and physical ailments who would not have a voice otherwise. It makes me grateful for my own blessings. “ (Pete Karlsson)

And simply, “Getting hugs from clients after a successful settlement, hearing or adoption.”