A client missed a hearing in his divorce. Fortunately, it did not affect the outcome of his case. He said he just forgot to put the divorce hearing date on his calendar. He was profoundly apologetic.
I could have criticized him and added to his misery or said nothing. But I knew exactly what to say. I used the magic words that Judge Cline said to me 50 years ago when he was the county public defender and I was his law clerk.
Cullen Cline was the best boss I ever had and my picture of the ideal lawyer. He looked like Steve Dallas in Bloom County. He was smart, funny, and charismatic. He was a pilot and wore a leather jacket and aviator glasses.
The magic words he used when someone made a mistake in his office were profound. They were forgiving and healing. I’ve never forgotten them and have used them many times.
I said to my client who missed his divorce hearing, “It’s ok. You just proved you’re human.”