At the heart of any organization are its core values and principles by which it conducts itself. Some organizations profess to be guided by a certain set of principles but in reality act according to a different set of objectives. There is a disconnect between what they say and what they do. You can see and feel the culture of an organization the moment you make contact with it. Are you greeted with courtesy and respect (assuming it is even a live person on the phone)? Do you feel welcomed? Does your inquiry seem important to the person answering the phone or are you made to feel as though you are an imposition? Are you left with the feeling that the person taking your call cares about you?
At Serra Law Group, we have six core values by which we are guided in how we operate our practice, handle client files, manage our business and treat our employees and stakeholders. Together with our What We Believe statement, these core values form the basis for everything we do and every decision we make. Our objective, of course, is to act consistent with these values and never lose sight of what we believe or why we do what we do. That is the commitment we made to ourselves and the promise we make to you.
Core Principle #1: Put client interests above all else.
This is perhaps the most important Principle and the essence of what it means to be a lawyer. As a fiduciary, a lawyer must always act in the best interest of his or her client, consistent with the wishes and desires of the client. A lawyer must act with fidelity and undivided loyal with respect to his client. And a lawyer cannot profit from his position beyond what is agreed to by the client in terms of a reasonable fee and just compensation.
Core Principle #2: Act with integrity and honesty in all dealings.
We all have a basic understanding of what integrity and honesty mean (to act consistent with a certain set of values); however, for a lawyer, it also means speaking favorably and positively about his client even when his client is not present. It also means being honest and truthful with a client and being realistic about expectations and outcomes. In all instances, integrity for a lawyer means never compromising the interests of his client. Clients are comforted in knowing their lawyer has their back and is always serving the client’s interest.
Core Principle #3: Search for fairness and common ground whenever possible.
It’s ironic that our legal system is grounded in the tenets of fundamental fairness, justice and equality, yet many people and lawyers approach the legal process as though they were entering into some type of battle intent on “defeating” the enemy. Being an advocate for your client does not mean you must take advantage of a situation to the detriment of another person or beat your adversary into submission. That is not what the legal process is about and is not what we believe as a law firm. When you consider that better than 95% of all lawsuits settle before trial, you begin to appreciate the wisdom in approaching your conflict with an open mind for creative solutions from the outset. It was Abraham Lincoln who once said: Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbor to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them that the nominal winner is often the real loser — in fees, expenses and waste of time. As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. I think we can all take comfort in the wisdom of our 16th President!
Core Principle #4: Have respect and reverence for all stakeholders.
The key to any productive and meaningful relationship is having mutual respect for one another. This applies not only to the attorney/client relationship, but also to the way in which the law firm treats its employees and the many other individuals who help make the firm succeed including those who deliver the mail, clean the toilets and repair the copier.
Core Principle #5: Strive to attain mastery at all levels.
Clients are best served when their attorney and his or her staff can think creatively in terms of problem solving and helping clients with their legal issues. Every situation is different and rarely are the issues black and white. And while we all may have the capacity to think “outside the box,” creativity only comes about once you have mastered a particular subject matter or task. This is why there really is no substitute for hiring a lawyer (or any professional for that mater) who has many years of experience and is knowledgable about a particular subject matter.
Core Principle #6: Create value for all clients and set fees accordingly.
Our goal is to create value for each of our clients. After all, that’s why they come to us. In exchange for that, we do expect to be paid, but not beyond the value of the service we provide as agreed to. This is why many of our services, including our on-line legal services, are offered at a fixed fee with no hidden costs for things like photocopying, toll calls or postage. Our interest is to invest in long term relationships with our clients and to measure the value of our services the same way you do – did we make the effort and get the job done?