Think of Olive Garden when hiring a lawyer

Think of Olive Garden when hiring a lawyer

When I was in high school, my extremely cool friends and I used to go to Olive Garden all of the time.  There isn’t much better for a hungry teenage boy than a never ending bowl of salad and breadsticks for something like $3.00.  Even if we got pasta too, the total cost was under $10 and as I remember it, it was delicious.  Between the OG and late night runs to Taco Bell, I was living the food dream.  At least that’s how I recalled it.  Ahh, life in the burbs.

Well, I grew up, went away for college and then moved to the City.  I didn’t have money still, but didn’t eat at Olive Garden anymore because strangely there wasn’t one in the City, at least not downtown, Wrigleyville, Bucktown or Lincoln Park which were pretty much the only places I went.  I discovered new restaurants and since I wasn’t 16 anymore and had no desire to drive to the burbs, I didn’t eat at Olive Garden for over 20 years.  Thanks to my wonderful grandmother who started dating an Italian man, I discovered a ton of authentic Italian restaurants like Monastero’s and Sabatino’s that offered incredible food.

I got married, had kids and now my son was begging me to take him to Olive Garden because he had seen the commercials.  I was smart enough to know that I was heading to a low quality, chain restaurant, but I still recalled it being good enough to enjoy.  It’s kind of how I know that McDonalds is disgusting, but that doesn’t mean their fries aren’t delicious.  But the OG was a different story.  We had the salad, had the breadsticks and got an entrée.  The kids loved it, but my wife and I could barely get it down.  The bread was stale and salty.  The salad was drenched in dressing.  The main course was bland.

To affirm as an adult how naïve you were as a teen is somewhat humbling, although of course not surprising.  But I really do remember great meals at the Olive Garden.  What could have changed?

So what does all of this have to do with hiring an attorney?  Most people have a legal situation once every three years, but some fortunate ones will go 20 years or more in between needing to talk to an attorney.  The first thing many of those people will do is track down their old lawyer that helped them two decades ago.  They did the job then so surely they can do the job now.

Maybe they can.  Maybe you went to Charlie Trotters 20 years ago and it’s still Charlie Trotters today.  But maybe the lawyer that was great back then has turned in to the White Castle of lawyers today (don’t try to defend White Castle unless you eat there when it’s light out).  So the point is that especially in a place like Chicago where there are more lawyers than restaurants, you have choices.  Don’t assume that the attorney that you remember as doing a great job is still great.  Attorneys are prone to burn out, especially as they get older.  The go getter that wanted to impress you when he hung up his own shingle at 35 might now be a disgruntled 55 year old who only loathes being at home with his family more than he does being at the office.

So just as you should look at a menu before you eat somewhere and use some common sense in picking where to eat, if you don’t really know your old lawyer anymore, check them out again and see what else is out there.  It could be that they handled your retail theft arrest case 20 years ago because they were taking every case that comes through the door, but now they are completely focused on just car accident cases.  The bottom line is that picking the wrong attorney will give you way more regret than picking the wrong restaurant.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense or if it’s the worst post I’ve ever written.  But I don’t dare go back to Baker’s Square out of fear that my beloved chocolate silk pie will now taste like cardboard. 

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  • What a creative way to make your point. Oh, and I did try Olive Garden as an adult once. (And only once.)

  • I totally get this, I used to LOVE Olive Garden as a kid and thought the Chicken Parm was so awesome. And went there recently after 20 years and good grief I make better pasta at home and I'm not Italian. No doubt we change and so do businesses and our taste buds.

  • In reply to Charles W. Johnson:

    Chicken parm was the best. Was.

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