Harrisburg/York Criminal Defense Lawyer Reflections: Attorney-Client Relations & Communications — “Coach ’em up”
There are a lot of things they teach you in law school. What they don’t teach you is how to be an attorney. They don’t teach you how do deal with people. This comes from life experience.
Throughout my life, I have been involved in sports, either directly or indirectly. In my youth, I participated in a variety of sports from wrestling to baseball to soccer. My experiences as a participant have provided me with a foundation of positive attributes including the ability to interact and communicate with people on both a personal and broader level.
Beyond my athletic experiences as a participant, I have been surrounded and mentored by coaches within my family to this day. My father was my baseball coach growing up and still coaches. My uncle was a high school wrestling coach. My father-in-law has been a high school football coach for more than 40 years. From these mentors and my varied experiences, I have learned a number of lessons that transcend sports, as well as life in general, and can be applied to my criminal defense practice so that I can provide the highest level of service to the people we help.
Confidence Equals Trust, Trust Equals Confidence
A coach must exude confidence that is visible to his players. A coach must also maintain a level of confidentiality and discretion in communicating with his players. These confidences form a bond of trust between player and coach. Further, a player-coach relationship based in trust allows each to have full confidence in the other.
Similarly, a positive attorney-client relationship must be founded in trust. Trust comes from open, honest, and candid communications between attorney and client. This level of communication is only made possible by the highest level of confidentiality. Additionally, it requires the attorney to confidently provide fluid assessments to and set reasonable expectations for the client even prior to the formal relationship being formed. Once this bond of trusts is formed, the client can move forward with complete confidence in their chosen counsel thereby reducing the burden and anxiety resulting from the pending criminal charges.
Coach and Mentor, Attorney and Counselor
Being a coach is more than X’s and O’s. A coach must also be a mentor in order to effectively communicate and get the most out of the players. The coach must understand that some players will respond to a kick in the butt and others may cower in response to the same approach. This requires an understanding that each player is, also, an individual and treat them as such.
Being a lawyer is more than knowing the law. To effectively represent respective clients, an attorney must take an individualized case-by-case approach. Each person seeking assistance from a lawyer brings with them their own set of individualized facts and circumstances. This extends beyond the details of their case to their personal lives. An attorney must have an appreciation for the individual in order effectively assist each client in setting objectives and making educated and informed decisions that will have life-impacting consequences. Hence, Counselor-of-Law.
Know Your Adversary
Coaches scout. They get film or video or go watch an upcoming opponent play a game before their team actually competes against that opponent. A good coach understands the importance of knowing the adversary — it offers an opportunity to exploit their weaknesses to reach your end goal – win.
Much like a coach, your attorney should know the other side — the prosecution. I don’t mean they should necessarily be friends and have lunch on a bi-weekly basis. Rather, your attorney needs to “scout” the other side in order to “know” the adversary. This means identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case, as well as your own, and determining their objective.
You might say, “Well, clearly, they want to win?” Right, but what does that mean to them? Your lawyer needs to determine prosecution’s definition of “win” during the negotiation process and identify if and how the prosecution’s objective can be made consistent with your own. This will provide the roadmap for the course you take toward successfully obtaining your overall objective.
Unlike sport, being subjected to a criminal prosecution is not a game. It is your life and carries with it real, substantive consequences. If you find yourself in this position, you need a knowledgable and experienced “coach” to develop a game plan, mentor and counsel you in setting your objectives, and implement a strategy to exploit the adversary’s deficienies and/or ability to merge their goals with your own.
Contact a PA Criminal Defense Attorney today for your free, initial phone consultation.