April 2022 saw the release of the sixth and final season of the hugely successful series, Better Call Saul.
A prequel to the Emmy Award-winning Breaking Bad, the show plots Jimmy McGill’s transition to becoming Saul Goodman, attorney at law with a remarkable success rate and some questionable practices.
Saul Goodman is great fun to watch because he’s as hapless as he is ruthless, as effective as he is selfish, and entirely self-centred.
Of course, while it’s entertaining to watch Saul’s antics on screen, we as a discerning audience know the truth about him: that the real him, Jimmy McGill, is morally dubious at best, and entirely ethically bankrupt at worst.
After all, as Jesse Pinkman says of him in the first season of Breaking Bad: “When the going gets tough, you don’t want a criminal lawyer – you want a criminal lawyer.”
Aside from the bravado and the brightly coloured clothing, Jimmy can teach you a great deal about knowing who to trust – and more importantly, who to steer clear of.
Here’s what we can learn.
Many professionals talk a good game but don’t deliver
Part of Jimmy’s charm throughout both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad is his eloquence and fluency when delivering his trial-winning speeches.
Unfortunately, Jimmy knows this is a talent of his, and almost exclusively uses his skills to his own personal advantage.
“I just went off on this flow, I had this energy going through me, it was like improv or jazz and boom, I sunk the hook in!” Jimmy excitedly rambles after successfully pulling the wool over the eyes of the board tasked with deciding whether he’ll be allowed to continue as a lawyer in season four.
For Jimmy, this quick wit and way with words is exactly what allows him to get by throughout his time as the go-to lawyer for the Albuquerque criminal class.
However, many professionals that you may come across will talk a good game about what they can do for you or your clients, and then never actually deliver on those promises.
It’s crucial not to get drawn in by those who use flattery and deceit in this way. Instead, you should work with individuals and businesses who clearly know their stuff and, more importantly, that have a track record of delivering.
Working with someone who has your clients’ best interest at heart
Throughout the course of his career, we frequently see Jimmy make choices that suit him, rather than the people he supposedly represents.
Jimmy is particularly adept at this in his brief but successful stint as a mobile phone salesman. He preys on the fears of people by suggesting that his phones provide superior security against prying ears, knowing that it’s a big concern for the kind of clientele he’s targeting.
Naturally, the entire ploy is all smoke and mirrors; Jimmy just wants to sell as many burner phones to his criminal customers as he can.
The point is that he doesn’t care whether these individuals need his phones or not. More often than not, Jimmy is entirely motivated by financial gain and ego than what’s best for his clients.
This kind of behaviour is not a trait you want to see in a professional you work with, especially your lawyer – unless, of course, you are a chemistry teacher cooking methamphetamine to pay for your extortionate medical bills.
You need to work with people who have their clients’ best interests at heart, not who are out for themselves. Otherwise, how can you possibly trust them?
It’s not just the services – the person matters too
Perhaps the most important thing that Jimmy teaches us about trust is that working with another professional isn’t just about the services they provide, but the kind of person they are.
Jimmy is no doubt intelligent. And, by the time he’s operating as Saul Goodman, he’s clearly successful, an expert in convincing judges, juries, and law enforcement officers that pigs can fly.
But his means of doing so are questionable and very often illegal, breaking into houses to prove his theories or even planting evidence in some cases.
This should come as no surprise to the people around Jimmy. In the first season of the show, he describes to two teenagers how he used to be known as “Slippin’ Jimmy” when he lived in Cicero, Illinois, using the cold weather to trick local authorities into paying out for his not-so-accidental injuries.
As Jimmy explains: “As soon as it was cold enough, Slippin’ Jimmy would find a nice, smooth patch of ice. He’d pick his spot, wait for it to get busy, then he’d walk out onto the ice and boom! He’d biff it so hard people would come running from five blocks away.”
Jimmy even knows that his reputation precedes him. “You look at me and you see Slippin’ Jimmy”, he bemoans to Kim, at the end of the fourth season after being accused of coming across as insincere.
It’s for this reason that you simply wouldn’t work with Jimmy. He may be an effective lawyer, but he’s a dishonest, disreputable character with a history of lying and making choices that suit his own needs.
You should work with people who are honest with you and sincere in their intentions. While they do need to have a line of satisfied customers and clients who can vouch for them, they need to be a professionally and personally responsible adult.
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