How do attorneys live with themselves?

A few days ago, I volunteered to be a presenter at a Career Day Fair for a local university. As the only attorney, I had the opportunity to speak with more than 150 9th graders.  As a person who grew up in Section 8 housing, I often volunteer with nonprofit organizations in the hopes of getting an opportunity to speak with students about the importance of education. For the most part, the students seemed interested in my 10-minute presentation, especially when I discussed DNA, fingerprints, and time of death. After I finished my presentation, I allowed for questions. As you can imagine,  I was frequently asked “How much do you make?,” “Are lawyers liars,” and “Why’d you become a lawyer?” Seeing these questions a mile ahead, I came prepared and responded with ease. However, one question momentarily stunned me: “How do you live with yourself?”


  1. And that’s why I never ask a criminal defense client whether or not he or she did it, whether or not he or she is guilty, or anything similar. The closest I get is “Have you read the Statement of Probable Cause?” and if they say “yes” then I ask “What, if anything, do you disagree with in it?”.

  2. Eduardo Gonzalez

    Always nice to hear from a fellow Salisburian.

  3. I’m not an attorney or anything close to one, but the ability of the accused to trust his advocate’s (lawyer’s)confidentiality seems like the foundation of our legal system. Otherwise, how can the accused offer an informed defense?

  4. Unless you know your lawyer on a personal level, you don’t really know with certainty that you can trust him. Lawyers often have friends or “connections” that they work with. Often times money is exchanged behind closed doors. You never can be too sure of who to trust in the world of government, politics, and lawyers.

  5. To help a murderer get away with murder means you have forgotten why murder is against the law. It is amoral no matter how you rationalize it. If, as you say, you would hate to live in a place where the state is an abuser rather than a protector, then you should not prevent the state from acting as the protector of people in danger from criminals.

  6. This is the flawed argument of allowing a known evil so that a potential evil doesn’t ever develop. The fact is, the more evil people released, the more our rights are restricted to “protect” us from ourselves. There are plenty of checks and balances within our legal system. Can you ever imagine sitting around a table thinking of a strategy to free O.J. Simpson? Or Ted Bundy, or those four predatory killers who just murdered a guy to get his car in NJ. Attack the cops, attack everyone, just so we can be protected from the state?? The reason somebody can sleep at night knowing their murderous client was set free is because ultimately they do not exalt human life to the extent others do. If they did, they could not sleep. The good guys always do the right thing, even if it means excusing themselves from the case. Or, at least admitting to a group of students they are tormented in their soul and know it is wrong. Sitting across from a person who you know murdered somebody and sleeping at night is just something that some people are able to do and others are not. We all want a free society.

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