Helping Clients Do The Right Thing

Posted by Richard Lawson | Aug 21, 2014 | 1 Comment

One of the most difficult things to do is to help save someone from themselves.  When I was a young lawyer (more than 20 years ago), I represented a DUI client with an alleged .147 B.A.C.  The police also charged her with running a red light.

The client was adamant that the Intoxilyzer 5000 result was wrong and that she was not impaired.  I certainly agree that many times the breath test is wrong due to many factors.  Those factors include residual mouth alcohol, radio frequency interference (from cell phones and police radios), acid reflux, diabetic issues, and exposures to other alcohols such as Acetaldehyde and acetone.

I was perfectly willing to take her case to trial and call expert witnesses to challenge the B.A.C.  However, because of other factors the client was offered a dismissal of the DUI and a plea offer on the red light violation.   I, of course, recommended the agreement.  I was certain the client would be thrilled.  Any DUI lawyer knows that in spite of our mistrust of breath-testing, the client stood a good chance at losing her case.

However, the client did not want the deal presented, and that started a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship.  I am using the word "breakdown" to describe what was a much bigger problem.  I was so certain that I had done such a good job that the idea of rejecting the agreement was shocking.  I made my disbelief very well known.   Things did not go very well that day, and the consequences reverberated for a long time thereafter.

I learned a great deal that day, but I must admit there is some sadness to this day.  I cared so much to get the right outcome that I could not accept that someone did not want my advice and good work.  Today, a fight with a client is now impossible.

When I present an offer to a client, I always give my best advice.  When a client does not take my advice, I will do as requested.  I will also give the client a letter to sign that they have rejected my advice.  That is it.  I do not argue it or fight with the client in any way.  I learned a tough lesson 16 years ago.

That being said, now clients are less likely to be saved from themselves and their irrational judgments.  I find this very sad because I see irrational decisions every day.  I want to protect people more than they could know.

I will say to my clients and to the clients of all the DUI Lawyers I meet, your attorney wants the best outcome for you.  Sometimes, total exoneration is not possible.  Sometimes, you are assigned to a judge or prosecutor that will roast you over a flame if you lose. I am obligated both morally and legally to tell you the perils of your decisions.  That does not make your lawyer part of the prosecution team.

Your DUI lawyer is your advocate and your advisor.  As for me, I will not be a wallflower if you hire me.  I will tell you my opinion.  Your DUI Attorney also has no stake in the outcome, other than what is best for you.  So, listen to his or her advice.  It comes with the perspective of knowing the judges and prosecutors in your jurisdiction.  It also comes from our training and experience in handling similar cases. That is why you hired us in the first place.

We care deeply about the outcomes our clients need.  We also want to save you from making bad decisions.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


Royce Reply

Posted Aug 22, 2014 at 12:22:57

Great advice!!!

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