Shameful Text Message to Client Draws Censure

Well, this guy sure earned himself a spot in the 2018 Lawyer Soundbite Hall of Shame.

Bet He Sure Wishes He Could Have That One Back...

Frustrated with his client's nonpayment of fee, lawyer told his client he wouldn't work on the weekend before client's jury trial, and added: "Have fun in prison."

OK, it wasn't meant to be a public soundbite. But, especially with messaging apps and social media where a single "tweet" can be career-ending, we all have to prepare our written correspondence with the mindset that - if this went public, would I regret hitting "send." ?

This is disgraceful on many levels, not the least of which is: competent representation for a jury trial does not require working on the weekend before the jury trial. Competent representation for a jury trial requires working on about the five or six weekends before the jury trial, if not more.

Fortunately, the good and responsible judge in this case removed the lawyer and appointed a new lawyer for the defendant.

Professionalism - First Principles

Almost all criminal defense lawyers - including the lawyers in our firm - often handle court-appointed and pro bono cases. It is an honor and a privilege, when a Judge or court clerk appoints us to represent the accused, or when we are able to take on a pro bono cause or client.

Some client relationships with court appointed, pro bono or low income clients are difficult, because the client wrongly (but understandably) feels that a "free" or "reduced fee" lawyer must be a bad lawyer; as well as the fact that the client, like all clients, retained and court-appointed, are going through a time of tremendous personal stress, anxiety and uncertainty about their future.

But the truth is that true professionals provide the same high level of excellent representation to all clients, regardless of their income (or lack thereof) and regardless of their social stature (or lack thereof!), and even regardless of whether the fee ultimately got paid.

That is what we aspire to, because that is what we learned, decades ago and all along the way, from our mentors and heroes in the justice system who taught us the craft and instilled in us the standards of professionalism that must always be upheld. -- Ted