So on Monday I spoke a little bit about why it’s important for lawyers to provide representation to people we may find completely devoid of morals. The take away from that is even if the person is someone you’d be happy to see locked away in a basement subsisting on bread, water, and the occasional print-out from the Stormfront website, everyone deserves to have good legal representation and we don’t get to draw the line at only the people we like or those whose views we always agree with. When we became lawyers, we became servants of justice, and sometimes justice, like your brother who lives in a basement subsisting on bread, water, and occasional printouts from the Stormfront website, has some really weird and detestable buddies you’d rather not associate with. Them’s the breaks, though, and we have to really accept it. While we have our personal morals and ethics, the idealized lawyer is professionally a true neutral.
I say “the idealized lawyer,” because at the end of the day we’re actually humans, not machines that just appear in court and “Beep Boop” our way through arguments, and we all have our limits. However, as I’ve talked about a couple times in the past, the limit is the lawyer’s issue, not the client’s issue, because it’s the point where our client is so amazingly, beyond the pale fucked up that we cannot represent them because we may subconsciously sabotage their otherwise meritorious claim. But if we can swallow our bile just long enough to make the argument, there are some steps a decent lawyer needs to take in handling the Reprehensible client.
So…you know, let’s talk about that and lose me some readers.
They Need A Lawyer, Not Necessarily You.
First let’s be really crystal clear here. I’m talking clearer than Trump denouncing Nazis. Clearer than the skull of a White Supremacist. There shouldn’t be any misunderstanding:
Reprehensible people deserve a lawyer, but they don’t necessarily deserve you.
Look, for all I say the administration of justice is furthered when even the detestables have appropriate counsel, the fact is you don’t have to accept a client that you stridently disagree with, and you have no professional or ethical obligation to do so if you believe another lawyer can prosecute their claims with just as much skill and diligence as you could. They can always go to the other lawyer who can handle the matter just as well as you can. Trust me, if they can pay there’s always some sharkskin-suit wearing motherfucker out there willing to jack up his hourly rate and represent Cletus the Grand Wizard in his divorce proceeding from his baby momma/Aunt. Nicky the Nazi doesn’t exactly need your Clarence Darrow-esque skills to dodge the full penalty for that parking ticket he got while stopping in at the barber’s for his weekly “head shaving.”
Hey, did you know that one of the purposes of a thick head of hair is to protect your skull and therefore your brain from blows? That’s why neo-nazis have no problem shaving their heads! Nothing there to protect.
But that’s the first thing to realize: If the case is simple and there are a lot of other lawyers out there who’ll take it on, and you find them morally repugnant, you have absolutely no obligation, professionally or ethically, to take them on as a client.
You Can Tell Them To Shut Up.
A huge part of representing any client, reprehensible or not, is keeping the client on point. This doesn’t change when your client has a swastika tattooed on the back of their neck and spends their weekends having orgasms in dirty bedsheets around a burning cross in the woods. You’d be surprised how easy it is to shut one of these clients up when they start waxing poetic about the “purity and strength of an ethno-state” if you look them dead in the eyes and say:
“Exactly what does the ethno-state have to do with getting your truck repossessed?”
You’re the goddamn lawyer, and providing them representation in a legal matter completely unrelated to their dipshit beliefs doesn’t mean you have to give them a platform for those beliefs. If Paul the Proud Boy is getting his ass divorced for being a wife-beating scumbag, you don’t need to engage him in a discussion about the validity of of his view points to draft the fucking Complaint. You just draft the fucking Complaint, and cut off any attempt by Paul to have a discussion about why he thinks the man down the street with three Ph.D.’s is inferior to Paul and his “almost a GED” ass simply because of skin color.
Clients Lie, And This Goes Double for Racist Shitstains.
Clients. Fucking. Lie. We’ve covered this so many goddamn times on this site that listing examples of the previous discussions would stretch on for four or five different posts. But the racist and reprehensible shitbags that come to you? Oh, they’re gonna lie even fucking more.
Remember guys, these are the folks who do shit like argue they aren’t violent when there are goddamn videos of them beating people and use sports team victory parade photos as proof their anointed representative in Washington is the Bigliest one ever. Don’t trust these shitstains or anything that comes out from in between their Government-cheese stained teeth. You have to fucking investigate every goddamn claim these folks make, because they’re going to try and twist, manipulate, and outright create “alternative facts” that support them even in the face of all evidence and truth to the contrary.
They may not even think they’re lying. These people obviously have problems accepting reality, otherwise they wouldn’t spend their sad lives trying to client to an easily disprovable ideology based on the superiority of race in the face of all historical evidence and precedent. Remember, when you have a reprehensible client across from you, some of these motherfuckers look at the massive evidence of the Holocaust and say “Nope! All faked. Jewish conspiracy!” These are the types of people you’re fucking dealing with. So investigate the fuck out of their claims and facts, because they’ll lie even to their own detriment before owning up to an ounce of responsibility.
Everyone Fucking Pays, and Dipshits Pay More.
First, kudos to folks like the ACLU who represent these assholes on the grounds of protecting civil liberties for all Americans, and do so at no cost. They are truly guardians of justice and protectors of American rights for all people, because once we deprive any one group of constitutionally assured liberties we set the stage for the opposition to deprive other groups of those same rights. The Lawful Neutrals of the legal world.
You’re a private practitioner, though, and that means you don’t have to be Lawful Neutral. You can be Chaotic Neutral if you damn well please. That means that while you may have a general desire to fulfill the traditional role as a lawyer for all those who need representation, you can certainly choose the fucking manner and method in which you do so…so long as you do it within reason. Let me give you an example:
I have a standard hourly rate. It’s below the normal market for my area to help bring in clients. But if you’re going to be a pain in my ass, that rate goes right the fuck up because a) I want more money to deal with your detestable ass and b) Lodestar Motherfuckers!
Lodestar is the method by which a majority of courts determine what a reasonable hourly rate is in the area. It’s a two part test that relies on a number of factors: 1) what is a reasonable hourly rate, then 2) what is a reasonable number of hours for the case. Generally you see this when a court is awarding attorneys’ fees, but it’s also helpful in determining whether or not a bar association will determine your rate is excessive or unreasonable. And you know what part of that Lodestar calculation is for “reasonable rate”?
What the range of fees in the area is with an exception to that when nobody else wants to handle the fucking case.
So when a Nazi shitstain comes to me with a sob story about how nobody else will “touch his case because of his personal beliefs” (poor fucking baby), what I hear is “No other lawyer in the area will take my case, and you’re now halfway to justifying a much higher rate for me because I’m such an asshole that I masturbate to the thought of a world filled with those kids from The Village of the Damned.”
But what if other lawyers will take his case? Well, that’s when I set my rate on the high end of what is reasonable for my forum, because I don’t want to deal with them, but if I do I want to get my fucking money from it.
And you know what? If they pay it the joke’s on them because…
You Don’t Need To Agree With These Assholes to Represent Them.
Remember Monday when we talked about that whole thing in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and how lawyers representing someone don’t necessarily have to endorse their views? Yeah, you don’t have to do that. You’re still a person, not just a goddamn legal robot of justice, and that means you get to have completely opposite opinions from those of your clients. So you know what I like to do when I represent a reprehensible person?
I like to remind myself that the higher rate I charge the goddamn Nazi, while still reasonable and ethical, lets me drop my rate for representing…oh…the Muslim Immigrant businessman in his legal matters, or the African-American family in resolving a debt issue, or helping the Hispanic immigrants who don’t speak English buy a house. Because I like those people, and if I can take a shitstain’s money and use it to help the people I want to help without starving to death, I’ll do that shit all goddamn day long.
Dietrich the Defendant may have just allowed me to represent Abdul in getting citizenship, or Alejandro in purchasing a home, or Demarcus in reuniting with his children – all at an affordable rate much lower than that charged to the dipshit, and all on the back of his goddamn money.
That, my friends, is how you get some satisfaction out of representing these assholes.
Look, this isn’t everything, it isn’t even most things. Just remember, we’re lawyers, and that means we have a technical obligation to provide representation when we’re needed, regardless of the case. But when we’re actually needed and when we actually have that ethical obligation is up in the air and certainly subject to our own whims. Additionally, there’s nothing that says we have to take on representation of these assholes for free, or that we have to engage with them or support their views outside of the attorney-client relationship.
Just follow your lawyer head and your human heart, my liitle asswipes. You’ll be fine.
And for fuck’s sake, don’t go to any of their “social gatherings.” They’re really Klan meetings.