How Can You Represent Those People?

A question I hear frequently is: "How can you represent those people?"  They usually crinkle their nose when they ask the question and sometimes shudder.  Many people find it disturbing that I represent criminal defendants; plain and simple.

I try to answer this question as honestly as I can.  I love my job.  And, I love the people I represent.  I find that all (or most anyway) of the clients I represent are good people.  Usually, they are at a point in their life where they are very down on themselves.  As a result of this, they are usually very easy to work with.  Regardless of the facts of their case (or whether they may be innocent of the charges brought), they usually are ready to make significant changes in their life in an attempt to get things back on track.  Sometimes they face significant challenges which make it difficult.  Some have drug problems, others have very challenging personal problems such as low finances or marital discord.  Some simply have made very bad choices in their life and are ready to try to make drastic changes.  This is not always the case, obviously, but I find this to be the exception, rather than the rule, after doing this for a number of years.

It is my personal belief that everyone, no matter what, has some good inside of them.  As I stated before, for a variety of reasons, sometimes people make very poor decisions in life.  It is often the case that when first charged with a criminal offense, they realize the error in their conduct, not just with the specific offense they are charged with, but with all other aspects of their life as well.  By the time I get to them, they are usually broken in spirit and are praying for something (or someone) to help them with their situation.  As the attorney they entrust with their representation, they usually see me as the person that can bring hope and change to their life.  Many have much to lose.  Most have spouses, children, and jobs which all hinge on the outcome of their case.  Most of the time, therefore, they see me as the only person that has the ability to help them prevail through a tough time.

I enjoy being the advocate for people who need a voice.  Numerous cases flow through the criminal justice system.  Immediately a cause number is placed on the person’s case before anything substantial happens.  The accused is simply known as a cause number to all relevant court personnel.  It’s not their fault , there are simply too many cases for them to keep up with.  Prosecutors generally dispense a punishment recommendation based on the facts of the case, the person’s criminal history, etc.  I don’t think a prosecutor has ever asked me before “what kind of person my client is.”  It is a lawyer’s job to revert that cause number back into a real person.  Thankfully, I have dealt with many prosecutors who are willing to take such information into account before making a decision that will ultimately affect the rest of the person’s life.  Regardless, the task is mine to be an advocate to convey to those in charge just what kind of person that “cause number” is.  It is literally impossible for them to “know” a person without an attorney telling them.

It is my hope with every client I deal with that I am able to effectively represent them so a positive outcome is reached.  While I obviously hope I can effectuate a positive outcome in the courtroom, it is also my sincere hope that I can help effectuate a positive outcome in their life as well.  My role is defined as an attorney and counselor of law.  What I take this to mean is that my role goes beyond simply advising my clients as to how best to proceed legally.  My goal is always to try and give advice that will help make them a better person for their family, friends, and with whatever their profession is in life.  That is the truth.  And that is How I Can Represent Those People.