It was written so well, applying the oratory rule of three to build the tension and generate applause. "They will say raise taxes and I will say no. And they will push and I’ll say no. And they will push again and I will say to them (dramatic pause): ‘Read my lips, no new taxes." This may be the most remembered campaign promise in history. The one President H. W, Bush later broke. Did it cost him the 1992 election? Maybe not, but, it likely caused some independent voters to no longer trust him.

President Obama has broken many of his campaign promises, including the famous "put it on C-Span promise. Coming to his defense, Newsweek magazine wrote an article: Unpromising: Everyone complains when presidents ‘break promises.’ But is that fair? noting that both the right and the left media are keeping track of the President’s  broken promises and suggesting that:  "Breaking" those ‘promises’ may be disappointing, but it isn’t a betrayal. It’s governing."

I am sure the most loyal democrats may view broken promises as governing, but I believe Newsweek is misreading how independent voters view broken promises. In spite of what Newsweek suggests, I believe independent voters lose trust in candidates they voted for who break the promises that caused them to vote for that candidate.

So what do politicians and voters have to do with lawyers and clients? To me, independent voters are like clients who are still searching for the one lawyer or law firm to help them. Second, in almost every Gallup annual Honesty and Ethics of professions survey, lawyers are near the bottom, but typically lawyers are a little more respected than members of Congress.  I think the public’s lack of trust for both lawyers and politicians stems in part from both professions not keeping promises.

My thoughts are supported in The SPEED of Trust by Stephen M. R, Covey.  He writes:

Whether commitments are explicit or implicit, they will have an impact on speed and cost.  To violate them causes doubt, suspicion, cynicism, and distrust that rust the wheels of progress.  To keep them generates the hope, enthusiasm, confidence, and trust that increase momentum and lubricate the accomplishment of results.

What kind of promises do lawyers make to get a new client? Lawyers would argue they do not make promises, but unfortunately clients perceive what they have been told as a promise. A lawyer may offer an opinion on the outcome of a matter. The client will count on getting that outcome. A lawyer may say a matter will cost between X and Y. The client is counting on the matter costing no more than whatever the lower number is. A lawyer may say she thinks she can complete a matter by a certain date. The client will count on having the matter completed by that date.

it is hard to picture a national magazine writing that lawyers breaking promises made to clients "is disappointing, but it isn’t betrayal. It’s lawyering" So, the lesson for you is to under promise when being considered to handle a matter and over deliver when you get the matter.