When I first started practicing law, I realized that one of the many lessons not taught in law school, was how to put on a poker face when a client made a shocking pronouncement. On more than one occasion early on I had to excuse myself from my office to keep from showing what I was truly thinking. Fortunately I quickly learned to retreat to my poker face externally and while many people would likely have an OMG moment the client was being open and honest and providing much needed information that could, generally, help their case.
Well after a number of years of practice I rarely have the OMG moments, but I am still amazed at the corners folks can paint themselves into.
Which leads me to a comment I get a lot that goes something like this. "With the type of law you practice you must never have problems coming up with ideas for stories."
This dynamic presents much of a dilemma. The bottom line is that while I may use personality or physical attributes of clients, or friends, or people I randomly see on the street, in creating my characters, I have a steadfast rule that I will never use a client's legal situation, in whole or in part, in any plot I craft. In fact, I have yet to have any story line in any plot that relates to my practice area. I do this because I have a strong belief that even if the names are changed the situation could be recognized and this is a risk I simply won't take. Every attorney should, and is ethically required, to hold his client's confidences sacrosanct to the highest degree. So while I do draw upon my day to day legal experiences it is mainly for procedural matters. There are enough places to draw outlandish legal specifics so that the last place I need look is my own practice.