01 July 2005

Via Skelly: An interesting take on why out clients act as they do.
Borenstein’s Law: our clients are more likely than others to act in ways contrary to their best interests.
It's an interesting theory but I don't agree with it. I do agree with Mort that it's not all about stupidity either. Sure, a number of clients are there because they did something stupid and were unlucky enough to get caught at it. However, as I've said before, I think that clients (1) don't fear jail all that much, (2) engage in a cost benefit analysis of a life where they take a number of risks for their own benefit(shoplifting, buying drugs, etc) and learn that most of the time they don't get caught, and (3) have been living in a world where people scam off each other often so that their first instinct is to try to scam their way out of it (talk to the police, make up their story with their cellmate, send a letter to cousin Al telling him what lies to say on the stand, etc.). I just wish they'd realize that trying to scam me generally doesn't do them much good. I'm the defense attorney; it's my job to be somewhat gullible. However, if someone swears to me that he was at cousin Al's and never talked to the police, it is devastating to the case when I find out (usually during pretrial negotiations but sometimes mid-trial) about the letter and the videotaped confession.

Actually, let me amend what I said above. Clients engage in self-destructive behavior. However, I think it is a matter of focus. Clients often have adopted a short term outlook. In their world it makes sense. However, when the techniques they have learned to use to good effect in the short term interact with the legal system they fail. In that way it is self-destructive.


Windypundit said...

"when the techniques they have learned to use to good effect in the short term interact with the legal system they fail."

Hmm. In some sense, I suppose you've just described why we have a legal system.

Mortimer said...

Ken, I think my post agrees with most of your points. Your head scratching about why clients lie to their defender is somewhat naive. It's part of the deal. Our clients, by nature and experience, distrust the system, and we are perceived as part of it. They believe we will not "fight" for them unless convinced of their "innocence." And they are self-destructive, think magically, and inclined toward bad choices.