Nobody likes to give bad news, and most of us are leery of “shoot the messenger” syndrome. Yet giving bad news is an occasional part of the job for most lawyers in private practice, particularly litigators. Under Ethics Rule 1.4, lawyers must keep clients “reasonably informed about the status of a matter.”

On June 18, 1940, in his “finest hour” speech, Winston Churchill gave what was probably the greatest example ever of conveying very bad news in an effective way. On that date, he addressed the House of Commons and — through the BBC — the free world, following the defeat of the French army by the Germans.

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