Unavoidable guilt in business; what to do?

What to do with unavoidable guilt when nothing can be done for a client?

Alright everyone it’s time for self-help on LinkedIn. Fellow professionals need your advice, including myself.

This post is about a situation that many people in the Legal field have gone through. It’s about that client, that case, that family that due to no fault of your own you just can’t help. It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s not that you haven’t tried to. Conversely; you have tried to help with every ounce of energy and know how within you. It’s simply a case of it’s not possible.

Example, our firm was hired by a woman to do surveillance on a subject for a couple of weeks. Per the client, our target was a womanizing, strip joint visiting, alcohol addicted, law violating S.O.B! What’s worse he was an attorney and he knew the tricks of the trade. He was so dastardly that on the day the baby was born he went in with a court order (After the baby was born) to change the baby’s name and take the baby from mom. So we began our surveillance to get this guy because he has to be dripping with scum juice. He went to work every morning, came home every evening and went nowhere. This happened Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday though he came home after work for 15 minutes then took off in a hurry and we lost him less than 5 minutes later. Friday and Saturday he did nothing. Sunday he went to church with his parents and spent the day with family.

Long story short; this pattern went on for four weeks. No traffic infractions, no going to a bar or strip joint. Lost him on Thursday again. No one watching the kids but he and his parents. He went nowhere but to work and home. We added another investigator to follow him on Thursday. Lost him on Thursday again. Where is he going Thursdays that he has to get there in a hurry? The client was hoping for something juicy! A sliver of something negative to help her case and hurt his. Maybe drinking? Maybe womanizing? Maybe drugs or just Anger management classes.

We added other measures (legal) that would insure we don’t lose him for the following Thursday. Thursday came. We were ready. We were all hopeful to figure if Thursdays were going to be dirt or just going to hurt our client. So here we were. All ready. He takes off, we follow, he zigs, he zags, and he drives fast, maybe trying to lose us? Nope. He is not even looking out his mirrors. He continues on, he circles the block twice, he parks outside a………………..wait for it…………….A CHURCH!!! He runs inside. In the end we find he was going to church service and helping with a soup kitchen, every Thursday night. That won’t bode well for our client.

teardrop-falling-out-of-blue-eye

This is a good woman. A strong woman. A woman raising a new born, working on a doctorate and holding down a job as well. How do we tell her there is nothing to find on this guy? How do we tell her that over 50 hours of surveillance found nothing to help her case? How do we as a firm, through no fault of our own, deal with not being able to help a client and still leave all sides with a smile?

Thumbs up woman

Happily this is a rarity for us, but saddening and painful none the less. In addition, it’s painful for the client as well.  I know this this type of thing happens to social workers, cops, lawyers, nurses and more so I am reaching out to LinkedIn professionals to maybe get some answers and self-help suggestions for not just me but others out there with the same question.

So tell me; what should be done when there is nothing that can be done? What do you say? Is guilt the correct thought process or is just compassion and empathy for their situation?

Thanks for your time and responses!
P.S.

To clarify, this did not happen because our firm failed to do the job. This did not happen because our firm was not up to the challenge. This did not happen because we were in the wrong place at the right time and we missed the picture of a lifetime. It wasn’t because one of my guys fell asleep on the job. It wasn’t because the camera was blurry, because we got the wrong address or because we missed it by a minute or two. So now you ask why did your firm fail to find anything for the client?

It is simple. It is always one of two reasons; the first reason is simple…….the target subject just hasn’t done anything because they just don’t do anything wrong. The second reason is more complex but still simple…..the client is just wrong about the accusation. The client either was misinformed or the client has misunderstood or misread things and is just hoping for something to go their way.

Again, Thanks for any thoughts because we strive to have results in every case, but, sometimes there just is nothing to be found.