By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Today I’ve got two principles to share and they can be summed up the cliche, “Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.”
I’m summing up what I feel are the 10 most important principles a criminal defense lawyer should follow in their practice in this series. You can read about my previous posts so far on the topic here:
#8 Be Optimistic
You won’t find much doom and gloom on my blog. I’m sure there’s plenty of anger, grand-standing and self-ritcheosness… but hopefully not much fear-mongering.
People often shake as they’re walking into my office. A big part of it is because they’ve been on the internet or gotten legal advice from their best friend growing up. They think I’m going to confirm their fears about having body and appendages severed by the prosecution.
I have yet to come across a case in the zillions I’ve evaluated where there isn’t some hope, some ray of sunshine, or something to be optimistic about. Granted, these things are relative and if there weren’t legitimate reasons for concern — no one would come and see me at all.
But people crave optimism from professionals they deal with. There is nothing wrong with being optimistic and letting folks know where the sunlight is.
#7 Inoculate People For Bad News
Again, today’s topic is a ying and yang concept. While there is nothing wrong with being optimistic — people also don’t come to a lawyer to be lied to.
Bad news is unfortunately part of the job. It’s important to discuss unpleasant possibilities for many reasons. What is also important is putting them into context and letting someone know how realistic certain outcomes may or may-not be.
I find it is important to discuss possible bad news before it happens. This way the lawyer and client can come up with a plan for avoiding the possible bad result and time to come up with another plan should the bad result come to fruition. This gives the client and/or their family a sense of some control and allows time for them to wrap their mind around things.
I call the concept inoculation. It is like eating vegetables. It’s no fun to eat veggies at the table but it’s very healthy in the long run. Discussing possible bad outcomes in a constructive way yields long term dividends.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is licensed by the State Bar of Texas.