April 22, 2024


Law, This Is It!

On a client’s changing expectations

3 min read
Jefferson and Washington monuments
by Jamison Koehler on August 19, 2022
Jefferson and Washington monuments

Persons utilized to come in for their first interview at the Philadelphia community defender’s business office in a stress:  “I am so scared of heading to jail,” they would say prior to we were being even seated.  “I will do just about anything, just about anything at all, if you can just avoid me from serving any time.”

Such fears ended up frequently unnecessary. Possibly the person was a initial-time offender.  Maybe he/she was charged with a insignificant misdemeanor.  In these cases you could re-guarantee the shopper that, even in the worst circumstance scenario in which the circumstance went to trial and the consumer was located guilty, it was even now unlikely he/she would be sentenced to nearly anything a lot more than probation.  

Consequently re-confident, the client also re-assessed.  But I have young ones, the consumer claimed.  Or I have a career.  I just cannot be worrying about coming into the metropolis to see a probation officer.  

In other phrases, in excess of the class of a 30-minute job interview, the client would have absent from “please no jail time, I will do anything” to “my everyday living is as well active to be bothered with probation.”  This is definitely unfair.  Is that the very best you can do for me?

That is how quickly client anticipations can transform.

A big part of our occupation is to regulate these expectations.  Specifically, we want to make certain these expectations are both knowledgeable and practical.

I usually begin communications with a client with a dialogue of trial approach:  How can we beat this case?  This puts the emphasis wherever it really should be:  fighting as opposed to surrendering.  It also signals to the consumer that I am on his/her aspect.  

When I go out to the jail to see a consumer, I normally provide alongside my notebook so we can jointly evaluate the body worn digicam (BWC) files, any surveillance recordings, and so forth.

Whilst viewing the witness’s statements to police, for example, I will stage out probable inconsistencies and other weaknesses.  I may perhaps also stage out complications with the way the job interview was performed.  

But I have to be careful not to oversell the power of our probable protection.  For illustration, that law enforcement officers interviewed witnesses in the existence of other witnesses, thereby perhaps contaminating their testimony, is a possible place of cross-evaluation that could or might not resonate with the jury.  

But that, in and of by itself, will not demonstrate lethal to the government’s case.  It is probable that, in spite of these problems, the jury will even now believe that the testimony.  

It is a fragile stability.  On the 1 hand, we are not able to be also optimistic.  We do not want to give the client unrealistic expectations about the prospects of prevailing at trial. At the identical time, we do not want to current also grim a photograph possibly.  

I have problems any time a client asks me for my advice.  You are the law firm, they say.  What do you imagine?  

In people cases, I find myself making use of –reluctantly — that most lawyerly of phrases:  It depends.  

This is your daily life, I answer.  I can only lay out the possibilities – the execs and downsides – for you to make a decision what is best for you. 

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