It’s human nature to want to save face and not look bad in front of others, especially those we perceive to be in a position to judge us. We have an unfortunate tendency to try to make ourselves look as blameless as possible in front of a Lawyer.
Why do people lie (or tell incomplete truths) to their Lawyer?
It may be simply because they don’t want to look bad. It may be that they think their Lawyer will like them better and work harder for them if they appear to have a figurative halo over their head. They may be ashamed of their actions. They may want to hide assets they think their Lawyer will require them to give up or share. Or they may simply think that if their Lawyer knows the truth, he or she will recommend a course of action they’d rather not follow.
Whatever the reason, the temptation to be less-than-honest with your Lawyer can be strong and may seem harmless. Rest assured, lying to your Lawyer can lead to much bigger trouble than telling the truth would have.
Your Lawyer is on Your Side
Your lawyer is bound by confidentiality. Everything you tell your lawyer is protected by attorney-client privilege. This means that your lawyer can’t repeat anything you’ve said without your permission.
You may have family and friends who are on your side in your case, but your attorney is probably the only person who is both on your side and in a position to help you achieve your goals. He or she is ethically bound to work in your best interests—even if you have done some terrible things.
A Lawyer who has been in practice for more than a few years has seen a lot. It’s unlikely that your misdeeds are going to shock him or her. At least, they won’t if your Lawyer hears them directly from you.
If you allow your Lawyer to construct your case around a pleasant fiction—say, that you’ve been perfect and it comes out in court that the opposite is true, your Lawyer will be blindsided. He or she won’t have an opportunity to construct a narrative that makes you look positive in light of the facts, and you will look like the kind of person who can’t be trusted.
If you lied about this, a judge may reason, you’ve probably lied about other things. Instantly, you’ve not only rendered your Lawyer less effective, you’ve also destroyed your own credibility.
Telling your Lawyer a lie may, initially, cause your Lawyer to tell you what you want to hear, but any advice the Lawyer gives you will be flawed—perhaps disastrously so. Just as it is far better to confess to your doctor that you have been smoking when you are seen for a cough, you’ll get much better “treatment” from your Lawyer he or she knows the truth about your situation.
When your Lawyer knows the facts of your case, he or she can give you the best possible guidance and advocacy.
Lying Can Cost You
Aside from massaging the truth to avoid looking bad, Of course, not only could you suffer punishment at the hands of the court, but you will likely incur legal fees for having to go back to court in the first place.
Trust Your Lawyer
Once you’ve taken the time to find a Lawyer you can trust, don’t be afraid to trust your Lawyer. If you’re tempted to lie, think about why that is, and share that with your Lawyer as well. He or she may be able to help you avoid the outcome you fear, even if it’s not possible to promise you the outcome you most want.
You won’t lose the assurance of your Lawyer’s best help because you disclose something unfavourable about yourself. Don’t lose your attorney’s trust, and their skill, because you haven’t been honest with her or him.