For many of us, our practices take us into the lives of our clients at times of great stress. Whether it is criminal trouble, professional licensing trouble, matrimonial trouble or business trouble, legal trouble is painful and all-consuming. Guiding clients through these troubled waters to land, at least relatively safely, is one of the many rewards of a fulfilling law practice.

One thing I have learned is that, for both the lawyer and the client, the beginning of a high-stakes representation is the hardest. In the very first meeting, your client is being eaten up by the uncertainty of the future: she wants to know what will happen, what is the worst case scenario, what is the best case scenario, how will you avoid the former and achieve the latter. And the truth is, in the beginning, you do not know. And you tell your client to slow down, take things one step at a time, have a little faith, a little patience and with a little luck things will fall into place as best as they can.