By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
They shouldn’t make you feel an inch tall.
We lawyers talk to one another, you know. We talk in the courthouse and on list-serves to share stories, ideas and updates and to give one another advice on how to handle common issues.
Some of the most effective courtroom advocates I know struggle mightily with I will call “bed-side manners.” I’ve heard many stories from lawyers who give strict analysis and instructions along with constant dosages blame. I’ve over-heard them lecture their client like a drill sergeant would a new recruit.
What they don’t know is they fill their client with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and shame. They rationalize their behavior by saying they know what is best for the client and if the client just shut’s up and do as told — their case will be resolved more favorably.
How I View My Job
I view my job as getting my client the best outcome possible — but nothing anywhere says my client’s dignity should be collateral damage.
If you’re in my office, chances are you and most likely your family have been through a lot. If you or a loved one is arrested, it is the ultimate nuclear-bomb of a world experience. Even after you’re out of jail the weight of the anchor you drag with you doesn’t go away. You don’t need me to remind you it’s there.
There are many legal criminal problems we can help fix. There are some we can’t no matter how hard we try. My job is to objectively assess which is which and communicate that in an effective, understandable way.
I try not to give false senses of security and hope by being unrealistically optimistic… and there are times when part of a serious assessment requires frank and unpleasant talk. I’m also not above throwing Mom & Dad out of the room and to tell their son/daughter how their criminal problems are destroying their family… but ultimately being sensitive to a client’s psyche doesn’t make a lawyer less of an advocate or a push-over.
The result in the case is of the utmost importance but the getting a good result and preserving someone’s dignity in doing so aren’t mutually exclusive concepts.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about this or any other situation, you should contact an attorney directly.