Like Clients?

Dan Hull, in his What about Clients? blog (a good question, and a good blog; his blogroll includes many blogs from outside the U.S.), lists 12 Rules of Client Service. I agree with Dan’s twelve rules 91.66%. But his Rule 1, “Represent only clients you like,” is one that I’m not sure criminal lawyers can follow.

Unlike Dan, most criminal lawyers are a) not representing companies; and b) not forming longterm attorney-client relationships. Our clients are people, and if all goes well they will never be in trouble again. I don’t speak for all criminal-defense lawyers, but here at Bennett & Bennett we try to help our clients resolve whatever issues got them tangled up with the law.

Some of our clients in fact did whatever it is that the government is accusing them of. Even our many factually-innocent clients have generally mismanaged their lives to get involved in the criminal justice system; most criminal charges don’t appear as a bolt from the blue. Some of the ways our clients mismanage their lives make them hard to like.

It’s nice to like our clients, but I don’t think it’s crucial. What do you think?

0 responses to “Like Clients?”

  1. I agree with you, Mark. I am not a criminal defense lawyer, but as a layperson I can imagine defending people whom I do not like. Perhaps the people we do not like (e.g., those with exceedingly poor social skills) deserve a good defense most of all.

    An example: I am an academician. I routinely read papers with which I strongly disagree, but I do not resort to ad hominem attacks. These are cheap shots. A real scholar attacks the merits of the arguments, not the character of the author making them.

  2. Thank you for the comment. Your example is interesting — just as a real scholar attacks the merits of the arguments, a real lawyer defends the merits of the case. The problem, however, is that in a criminal practice it’s difficult to distinguish the merits of the case from the character of the accused.

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