On Monday we talked about the Supreme Court case of McCoy v. Louisiana, wherein an attorney decided that a perfectly reasonable trial strategy was to tell the jury that his client had definitely committed murder in an attempt to avoid the death penalty. The lawyer did this without the permission of his client, and in fact did it explicitly against his client’s wishes. The client wanted the attorney to present a defense that he didn’t kill anyone, despite the state’s overwhelming evidence, and it brought to the highest court in the land the question of “Who really controls the representation.”
So we’re back today with Part 2, talking about who really gets to careen the bus of bad decisions off the freeway in glorious slow motion: the lawyer or the layperson who hires them. So, because I’m not gonna waste a lot of time or space today on building shit up, let’s just jump straight into this discussion.
Continue reading “Who Drives The Bus, Part 2 – A Guide to Decision Making for Young Lawyers”
Let’s start with the commonly accepted preposition that our clients are, by and large, incapable of finding their backsides with both hands, a map, and a native guide. Whether the client be the sweet little old lady from down the street or the meth dealer who’s been the scourge of the Shady Acres Mobile Home Community for the last three weeks before he fell behind on his rent, clients are collectively idiots without a single clue as to what’s in their best interests. It isn’t even their fault, really. As a society they’re trained to second guess people by television shows that teach them nice, and ultimately meaningless, phrases like “post hoc ergo propter hoc” that they can parrot back at the nice man or woman in the suit in front of them and make demands.
We live, ladies and gentlemen, in the Golden Age of Dipshittery, where any asshole with access to Google and a cable subscription can fancy themselves a lawyer. All hail King Dipshit, as he wanders into the office and proceeds to immediately second-guess the attorney. And, of course, because we learn the law from folks whose names are preceded by words like “Professor,” we of course have the vitriolic reaction of any learned professional when T-Bone tells us he totally thinks we should argue he was driving that ATV through the nunnery because aliens told him to: Sit down, shut up, I’m the goddamn lawyer.
And so, today and Wednesday, we’ll talk about the division of decision-making between an attorney and their client, i.e., who has control over what and when in an attorney-client relationship.
Continue reading “Who Drives the Bus, Part 1: McCoy v. Louisiana”
You know the cool thing about my job? I get to know people. I get to know people pretty damn well. Look, when you’ve sat in my conference room crying because your vindictive ex is low-key blackmailing you with pictures of you in frilly pink panties and an oversized lollipop (not that there’s anything wrong with that shit), we have a bond. That burly biker or truck driver who, to the rest of the world is a real man’s man, can feel cool to break down in front of their lawyer because they know that I can’t say shit, and because they know that my job is to help them. It’s neat to get to know my clients on a level that they only reveal to their priest and their bartender.
This means that for a lot of my clients who are actual people, they view me as some strange mixture between legal counsel and a damn good friend, and it isn’t uncommon for my clients to just drop by or call to see how I’m doing. Be it the retired NYPD detective who called my house (despite not ever having been given my home number) while I was laid up to see if he could swing by and do anything, the older couple that I helped two years ago who came by my hospital room with a huge homecooked meal for my family, or, my personal favorite, the Gypsy King and his wife who not only bring me chocolate and little treats randomly, but send a hell of a lot of business my way.
Continue reading “The Rom Baro and Me: Be Good to Your Clients”
It’s Monday on Lawyers & Liquor, and the first order of business is “Where’s the second episode of the podcast, asshole?” Well, the answer boils down to “I’m a technological incompetent with little ability to do things without a person holding my hand.” The audio recording of my interview with this episode’s guest, Chad Murray from www.chadtalkslaw.com, came out fucking awful on my end and has forced me to amplify my entire half of it…and of course I didn’t record it as two separate tracks and shit, which would have made sense. So it’s been a painstaking process, but the next episode will be out this Wednesday, so that shit’s at least sorted out finally.
Next, tomorrow’s Halloween, and I fucking love Halloween. It’s the time of year where people get to dress up as terrifying monsters, which for me simply entails wearing my normal daily lawyer get-up, and go passively rob people of their candy through a series of vague threats. “Treat,” the little bastards cry, “or trick.” It warms my soul, what little bit of it remains, to see the next generation getting the hang of armed robbery so goddamn early.
But for lawyers, every day is fucking Halloween, isn’t it? I mean, we all deal with monsters in some capacity in our work, from murderers to child molestors, all the way down to the guy that’s simply not going to pay his bill and put some small company out of business because they’re a fuckin’ skell, right? Right, motherfuckers, right. And, in fiction as in reality, lawyers have represented some horrible fucking monsters, haven’t they?
Continue reading “Dracula: The Deadbeat Client”
Good morning, or afternoon, or whatever time of day it is! Look guys, I’m not only writing a blog, I’m a practicing attorney, and that means from time to time shit runs late, like it did today and last week and…shit, I mean…every week since I took that ill-advised trip to the mountains to remember what it felt like to unclench my asshole for a few days. But that’s well in the past now, and it’s time for me to start doing shit that I’m supposed to be doing again, like updating this thing and passing on profane wisdom to those who need a swift kick in their perpetually idealistic asses. Which…you know…include letting people know that sometimes you’re going to represent people you abso-fucking-lutely despise.
I’m not just talking about your run of the mill “Oh, clients just flat out suck” type of person you despise either. Nope, not today my merry little shitstains. Today I’m talking about the client who causes your skin to crawl and your brain to say “Nope, fuck you man, you want to take this case you can talk to your ass cause that’s the one making the arguments.” I’m talking about the representation of the world’s reprehensible folks. You know the type I’m taking about, the one’s who go on and on about the purity and strength of the “White Race” while looking like Skeletor and having someone they can call “Sister Momma” with a straight face.
“Fuck them, Boozy,” people who definitely are Muggles will say as they read that paragraph, “Tell us why they don’t deserve a lawyer!”
I’m about to piss a lot of those fucking Muggles off though, guys, because here’s the simple truth: Lawyers aren’t supposed to make moral or judgment calls about their clients (even though we totally do), and that doesn’t just apply to the fluffy, furry, fuzzy fun fuckers…it applies to the hardcore Neo-Nazi assholes as well. Because that’s our goddamn job.
I can hear the sounds of the non-lawyers blocking me on Twitter and removing the site from their news streams even as I type that. Well, good fucking riddance.
Continue reading “Representing the Reprehensible: Part 1 – Boozy Rambles”