I met with a potential client today in the jail; she had spoken with another lawyer about her case. That lawyer is a guy for whom I have great respect. He’s a real lawyer who tries cases. I’ve never before heard any suggestion that he is anything other than utterly ethical.
But this potential client explained to me that she was more comfortable with me than with him. No surprise — I encourage people to talk to more lawyers than just me before deciding whom to hire, and it often happens that people choose to hire me over my well-qualified (and considerably less expensive) colleagues. Sometimes I ask the client what made the difference; I did so today.
“He told me there might be a different way to work this case out,” she said. Great, I thought, a client after my own heart — she negged this other lawyer because she didn’t like the suggestion that she might resolve her case by snitching. I was about to explain my position on the matter to her, when she continued: “He said there were other ways than money for me to pay, and he’d like to meet with me to work something out.” Oh. What do you think he meant? “I thought he meant sex. ” Sex? “Yeah. Sex.”
I’ve heard of lawyers taking “couch fees” in criminal cases (Ewww!), but the lawyer in question never gave me the impression that he was the sort to trade services for sex. (Question: what sort of lawyer do you think that is?) I’ve got no reason to think this was anything other than a misunderstanding between the lawyer and the client — a miscommunication.
What a miscommunication! It cost the lawyer a client, and he’ll probably be getting collect calls for months from inmates wanting the same deal.