Have you heard of the fable about the general who led a vast and unstoppable army, with multitudes of foot soldiers, artillery, supply lines, a vast ocean of destructive power — who stopped to console a woman who had lost her son to an illness? He failed to lead his army, and as a consequence, his vast and seemingly indestructible army was devastated in a battle which should have been a lopsided victory for the general of whom we speak. What is the point of that fable? It is that we all have our duties and responsibilities, and while the moral compass of the general was certainly “not inappropriate” (note the double negative) — but the timing was inappropriate. Why was the timing inappropriate? Because the general had other more pressing duties and responsibilities to attend to. Thus, it is important in speaking about the proper role of individuals, to always point to both content, as well as context. The general’s job was to lead his army; the fact that he had empathy for a woman who had lost her son, is commendable — but not in the context of needing to lead his men into battle.
This is important to understand in the context of a client and his or her attorney; remember that the attorney’s role is to win the case; and while empathy for the client’s personal situation and, in the case of Federal Disability Retirements under FERS & CSRS, it is important for the attorney to understand the “human story” of the medical condition, the impact of such medical conditions, and how they prevent one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, remember that the primary focus of the Federal Disability Retirement attorney is, and always should be, upon applying the applicable law, and to win the case. It is the Attorney’s job to keep the client’s focus upon those issues which will help him win the case.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire