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Saying No and Refusing to Serve: How to Draw That Line

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Saying No and Refusing to Serve: How to Draw That Line

If we have learned anything about ourselves in the past 10 days, it’s that there are some people in this world we will never be able to understand or condone. Between the skirmishes in Charlottesville, VA, and the killings in Barcelona and elsewhere; I am reminded that I will NEVER understand hate. I will NEVER condone racism, or neo-nazi-ism, or jihad, or white supremacy – or killing. Period. As I watched it all unfold through the news, I asked myself, What would I do if one of those people whose attitudes and opinions I find so repugnant asked me to be their advocate? The answer came easily. I would say no.  I’m guessing that most of you would want to say NO, too – but would not know how to do so. So I am providing you here with justification and tactics to effectively, legally, and ethically draw a line between who we will, and who we won’t, provide advocacy services to. Who we WILL work with – is fairly easy.  We’ll serve almost anyone who needs our skill set, in a geography we can serve, who is willing to sign our contract, who can afford to pay us to do that work. Who we WON’T or DON’T WANT to work with – is more complex, in particular because of our Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, and possibly because of the law. To be VERY clear: I am NOT talking refusing to do business with people who are simply different from us. I am not talking about denying service to someone of a different gender, or race, or culture, or ability from yours or mine. Our Code of Ethics is very clear on those points and none of those differences is justification to decide against working with someone. I AM talking about refusing services to people we can’t respect because of their demeanor or behavior. Maybe they have violent tempers, have lied to you, or are non-cooperative, or too critical. It might be that next door neighbor who once threatened to sue you because your tree drops leaves in…


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