It was forty years ago today that I was sworn into the Bar, which is the way we lawyers describe the ceremony of acknowledging that we will strive to uphold the Constitution and the laws while representing our clients. The vast majority of those 40 years has been spent representing my clients who are being investigated for or even prosecuted in federal court for alleged criminal activity. While a lot of time has passed, some things remain the same.
This morning when meeting with a client I remembered one of the things that has not changed in 40 years. Clients who come to see a criminal defense lawyer are almost always scared. Some do not show fear, others are overwhelmed, all are in stress. I remembered that one reason I still love my work after four decades is that I get the chance to help someone in a stressful situation. I am not always successful, but I always try to make my clients lives just a bit better as they go through the stress of an investigation or prosecution. Obviously, winning the case us the best stress reducer of all!
Another thing I remember today is how clients need to know they can trust their lawyer. A different client followed my advice recently and entered a guilty plea. I had won an earlier case for this client, so he trusted my judgment and advice already. Today’s case turned out well, he likely will not have a criminal conviction after a couple of years because of some changes in the law, and his decision to trust my advice led to this positive result.
Finally, today I remembered my passion for this work. I had a lengthy meeting set up for today with a client in a complex fraud case, and I was brimming with enthusiasm this morning on my way to the office. I had spent much of yesterday working on her case, plowing through the mountain of “discovery” materials, and I wanted to share my observations with her while also getting her perspective on what happened and how we can deal with the accusation. She commented on the obvious passion I have for my job, which was gratifying on a number of levels. While a lot of time has passed, I still feel just as amped up with a new case, a new issue, or a fight that needs to be fought.
The world has changed a lot since that June morning in 1982. In many ways, it remains the same.