Friday, February 20, 2009

guilt by association

I confess that...I've been pondering the issue of attorneys and clients lately.

In a recent state election, one candidate tried to attack the other by bringing up the fact that he'd represented a pretty low-life of a criminal in his attorney days. This pissed me off. And it didn't seem to work too well. I think that attorneys in particular take the "everyone has a right to a defense" view in general criminal proceedings (i.e. non-"white collar crime"). The general public is a bit tougher on the lawyers (they are tougher on ALL lawyers), but I think they can still be pretty okay with it. Maybe it's all the lawyer shows on TV or something.

But, I'm wondering if we treat the issue the same when it comes to either civil or white collar matters. I saw an article about the attorneys for Madoff having to defend themselves a good bit (aside from potential conflict issues) and their choice to accept the representation. Do we judge these attorneys more harshly on the basis of their clientele?

One factor, among many, in my choice of law firm after graduation was that I didn't like that another one of my options was a firm that did a lot of tobacco work. They did say that you'd never be forced to do those cases, but I wasn't sure I wanted to be part of the firm anyway if that was a big part of their business. I'm not sure how much that was about what I felt I wanted for myself versus passing judgment. I didn't want to defend rapists either, but I was/am glad someone does and my feeling about the tobacco work was somehow different than the criminal work....even though the same principle sorta applies and the system needs advocates on both sides.

I did work on a case for a handgun company at one point. That was hard for me, but I think I was okay because it was a specific insurance matter and not a lawsuit by someone injured by the product. I had to work through that one a bit though some days. I'd have been personally uncomfortable with some other types of representation for that client. And I'm not sure how I feel towards the places that take those cases.

I have nothing in the way of a conclusion for this train of thought but wanted to share it anyway. It's weighing on me in a weird way.

No comments: