Georgia Criminal Appellate Law Blog

Offering Insight and Commentary on Appellate Law and Criminal Trial Practice

What I’m Reading These Days

Posted in News

The podcasts I listen to cost me money. On a recent podcast, I caught an interview with Cal Newport, who discussed his new book, Deep Work. I’ve been taking a break from business books lately, but this one is very different. His thesis is simple. Our technology has created an expectation and a temptation that we work in shallow technological endeavors, miring us down in various inboxes, from our email, to our Facebook feed, to tweets, to photos on Instagram. Knowledge workers (I include lawyers in that category) are losing the ability to engage in deep work necessary to be truly successful at a time when it is more necessary than ever. And if we can reclaim the skill to engage in deep work, we will cultivate rare marketable skill. And he proposes some radical solutions to get there (I actually bought this book in a physical hardback form, versus a Kindle or iBooks download thinking that he medium is also the message. As a result of reading this book a bit obsessively, I’m revisiting many of my work habits.

From another podcast I have found Debt by David Graeber. I’m just past the introduction. But I’m already understanding the Occupy movement a little better. I’m not saying that I agree with Graeber (yet). But I’m challenged by the perspective.

Then, on a completely different note, a colleague on a mutual legal project asked me to go into Clarence Darrow’s closing argument in the Leopold and Loeb trial to pull out some quotations for us in our endeavor. This activity has gotten me obsessed with the Leopold and Loeb trial. And it’s inspired me to do something that I’ve never thought of doing before — finding old transcripts from famous trials. The entire Leopold and Loeb transcript is available online, and it’s amazing!

Pro-Tip on E-Filing at the Georgia Supreme Court

Posted in Uncategorized

Every now and then, I e-file things at the Supreme Court that require me to attach a set of exhibits. There are a few categories of things that require you to petition for the Court to take your appeal. And when you do that, you have to put together your own record into a sort of proffer of what the record would show if the appeal were granted.

In a way it’s much easier now than ever. There was a time, when this activity meant a trip to a copy shop or printer to make a huge set of binders with copies for each justice. Many trees died. Today, you e-file your exhibits.

E-filing the exhibits brings its own challenge. The Court prefers that you upload one big exhibit with internal tabs. Though the system is set up to take individually numbered exhibits. The problem there is that the numbers only go to ten, and sometimes there are more than ten exhibits. Another problem is that a multi-volume transcript may exceed the upload data cap. Then you must subdivide the exhibit. And it all gets confusing. pdfs, beyond a certain length, get kicked out of the system.

I learned yesterday from someone that you can e-file the discretionary application, await docketing, then log back in. At this point, when you upload your exhibit, the data cap goes away.

Today, as I nervously watched the status bar on my web browser go, I prayed. And voila. The Court took my 1,700-page exhibit packet.

My Interview Regarding Gun Control

Posted in News

Yesterday, I was interviewed by Zosha Millman regarding the Constitutionality of Obama’s proposed executive actions on gun control. She did a great job of explaining the proposals as well as the potential permanence of them and their ultimate constitutionality.

Take a look. I guarantee that it’s better than what’s currently in your Facebook feed from both sides of the debate. But maybe I’m a a tad biased.

Why I (Sort of) Like Atlanta Municipal Court

Posted in Opinions and Analysis
Flickr cc: Joe Robertson

Flickr cc: Joe Robertson

Picture it. It’s 7:30 in the morning. I’m downtown in Atlanta. It’s about to rain again. It’s the week between Christmas and New Years. I pull into a parking deck that I have to myself. And I walk over to court for what is now my third appearance on a misdemeanor case. And about an hour later I come out of the court with a healthy amount of respect for what it does. After thinking about it some, I sort of like Atlanta Municipal Court.

The Way Atlanta Municipal Court is Different from Other Municipal Courts

  • They Don’t Do Trials or Contested Motions. If you file a motion to suppress or want a bench trial, the Court will immediately bind your case over to the State Court of Fulton County. That’s right, Atlanta Municipal Court exists for one purpose only: to put you in a position to take a plea or to choose to go elsewhere for a better offer or to litigate your case. They won’t hear any contested form of anything.
  • Things Run on a Timetable. When the case is initiated there, there is an organized process that moves you through the court, where a plea offer must be conveyed in writing, and where a decision point eventually arrives.
  • It Doesn’t Pretend to be Something’s it’s Not. Municipal courts are the Rodney Dangerfields of the Georgia criminal justice system. They exist to generate revenue for the municipality they serve. That’s why the procedure to appeal a municipal court conviction is so byzantine. That’s why you will see cash registers in the courtroom. However, nearly all of these courts operate under a delusion that they are an actual court of record. That’s why cases often take so long to process there. The ones that do bench trials place either clueless pro se defendants or the occasional client with a lawyer before a judge who is an employee of the same outfit that employs the cop who wrote the ticket. What follows is a short and swift bench trial or contested motion. When the judge convicts, he generates revenue for the city. When the judge acquits, he turns money away and tells a fellow employee that he is wrong. Guess where the incentives are. Generally, a lawyer in Municipal court understands the game and tries to cut a deal that appeals to the profit motive of the system to the mitigation advantage of the client. Most municipal courts pretend that they are a real court of law with fair trials before a neutral and detached arbiter of facts and law. Atlanta Municipal appears not to harbor that illusion. So, the case moves fast. The municipal courts that have trials aren’t really in the trial business either. They just don’t acknowledge this fact.

When I say that I like this Court, I mean I like it to the extent that I like any Georgia municipal court. It’s a great place unless you’re innocent or poor. Within the context of a city/county justice system, it’s pretty difficult to get a trial at all there. When you bind the case over, you have a two-year wait ahead of you to get a case into court and an even longer period of time if you want a trial. It’s also probably not fun to be a poor person in any municipal court. In a system that values a defendant’s money so much, it is bad to have nothing you can offer. But as municipal courts go, Atlanta has the whole thing down to an art.

The Atlanta Federal Courthouse Should Retain its Name as The Russell Building

Posted in Opinions and Analysis

Lyndon_Johnson_and_Richard_Russell1I have read two editorials in the Fulton Daily Report in the last week or so. The first was written by a Federal Defender who believes that the building should not be named after former Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell because of his legacy in support of segregation. The second was a response by former Georgia Senator Max Cleland. He defended Senator Russell’s legacy and argued that we should not judge Senator Russell’s views by our more evolved views on segregation.

The Federal courthouse in Atlanta is one of many public works bearing the name of Richard B. Russell. A US Senate Office Building bears his name. Several dorms and other buildings at colleges in Georgia are named after him, as are several schools, roads, lakes, dams, and an airport. Senator Russell’s legacy is more than one of racism. His was a life of achievement and public service in several areas. I knew little about him until I read and became fascinated with Robert Caro’s volumes of biography about Lyndon Johnson. After finishing a book on Robert Moses, Caro has devoted his life and career to telling the story of LBJ. He’s still not finished. That story contains many biographies with the biography, Senator Russell’s being one of them. Caro tells the story of Senator Russell so well that I came away feeling a sense of connection to him. Many of my friends and colleagues who are fans of Caro came away with a similar feeling. Senator Russell created the school lunch program and was a saving figure in his leadership over the committee that investigated the firing of General Douglas MacArthur (the importance of what he did in that episode is beyond the scope of this post). He had a distinguished career in the Senate.  He was instrumental as a new dealer as a young governor of Georgia. To read Caro is to get a sense of the man. The Senate he dominated was a vibrant and strong institution. Personally, he was a life-long bachelor who never amassed great wealth in his years of public service. He also was a man of Georgia and carried proudly a family name with a  father who was also an accomplished public servant.

So, to the issue at hand, I actually disagree with the Federal Defender who advocates removing Senator Russell’s name from the Federal Building AND Senator Cleland. It is perfectly appropriate to judge Senator Russell for his stance on race and segregation. By any contemporary standard, Senator Russell’s views are shocking and disturbing. And even by the standards of his times, his views were out of touch with the majority. He was a master of the minutiae of Senate Rules — particularly the filibuster. And he used those rules, along with the Southern bloc of Senators, to defeat integration when the will of the majority of senators was to end it. He deserves to be judged for those actions. It is not enough to excuse such views as those of a “man of his times.” He was out of touch even with the time in which he lived on the issue of race. So, I disagree with Senator Cleland on his main argument.

However, I also disagree with the idea that his name should be removed from the Federal Building or any of the places that bear his name. He achieved much. His legacy as a Senator and a Georgian are worthy of remembrance into the future. Generations to come should know who he is and what he did. Those who might be prompted to learn who he is from seeing his name on buildings, schools, roads, lakes, and other public works should also come to learn of his racism and how he bent the rules of the Senate to block integration. To erase his name from the historical record is to deny even the chance of a discussion of who he was, for good or for bad. Georgia’s history, maybe even its present, is not the best on issues of race. But it is important to keep our historical figures in sight and in mind and even on the names of buildings, if for no other reason to learn about them and to engage in dialogue about them. There is a danger in the loss of dialogue about who we were — we lose sight of who we are and can be in the process.

To Prepare For Court, First Prepare Your Opponent’s Argument

Posted in Oral Argument
Ash If CC

Ash If CC

There is a psychological concept known as the curse of familiarity or the mere exposure effect. So the theory goes, we can develop a certain myopia with regard to things for which we have become intimately familiar and gathered expertise. This familiarity can make us see the world through that lens only. Then we lose sight of the fact that others may not be as familiar with the facts as we are. Our arguments can become old friends, and we can sometimes underestimate the value of our opponent’s argument. Also, we tend to gravitate toward the familiar and reject different ideas, not for their inferiority, but simply because those ideas are different.

The Perils of Overestimating Your Argument and Underestimating Your Opponent’s Position

This priciple is no more dangerous than when it happens with our argument or our position in a case. Over time, lawyers can fall so in love with our own argument that we cannot even wrap our head around our opponent’s. The result is that we do not see the strength of the argument and cannot plan to meet it. We make the mistake of preparing for the weak version of the argument that we perceive in our mind. Unfortunately, when we miscalculate the strength of our opponent’s position, we come to court unprepared. When it’s game time, find ourselves pitted, not against the straw man we trained for, but against the real opponent with the real argument. Suddenly, things come at us we did not anticipate.

My Pre-Argument / Pre-Court Ritual

I have a ritual that I do before every major court appearance or appellate oral argument. Instead of starting by  preparing to present my argument in outline form (presumably I know my argument already). I begin my preparation by pretending that I am my opponent. And I prepare his argument. What points would I lead with? What points would I de-empasize. What witnesses would I call? How would I attack me, if I were my opponent? Once I have prepared as my opponent, I truly understand that I am up against. Having put my own materials aside, I take out my opponents brief, my opponent’s main pleadings, transcripts of arguments for my opponent, and I spent the time it takes to get a full and very sympathetic grasp of my opponent’s argument. I try to resist the temptation to cut this exercise short or get dismissive. I pretend that I will be presenting my opponent’s argument. The exercise generally brings with it rude awakenings.

When I’ve truly gained an understanding of how my opponent will try to beat me, I change hats. I put on my judge hat and think of mine and my opponent’s argument from the point of view of a neutral third party.This process has prompted me to make last-minute shifts in my argument.

40 Questions

From there, particularly if I have an oral argument coming up, I will write out the top 10 tough questions I might expect to face during the argument. I then turn to draft the top 10 tough questions my opponent might get. After I’ve done this task, I will draft what I believe the top 10 softball questions are for my opponent and for myself. By softball question, I mean those questions that would help push my argument along if those questions were to come from a friendly judge or jury. A knowledge of these 40 or so questions helps me know what lies ahead in terms of challenges and strengths. I try to come up with an answer to all 40.

Then, and only then, will I prepare the outline of my argument. The outline of my argument is a whole separate post. But that outline is always better if I have prepared my opponent’s argument first.

Have a big argument coming up or brief due? Spend a few minutes walking in your opponent’s shoes. I think you’ll learn something valuable that will help you with your own argument if you do that.

When Opposing Counsel Tries to Bully You

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship

Flickr CC

Part of the fun of doing appeals and post-conviction work is hearing from colleagues with questions about things that arise in cases. Recently, I spoke with an attorney with an unusual situation. The lawyer was defense counsel on a serious child abuse matter. The prosecutor, when she supplied statutory discovery, told the lawyer that he was not allowed to show the discovery to the client, upon possible risk of prosecution. The prosecutor is obviously wrong, but this was a dangerous situation, at least from my perspective as a risk averse person.

Here’s what made it tricky. At first blush, my thought was to tell the lawyer to tell the prosecutor to go kick sand or simply to ignore the warning. The prosecutor was more wrong than a football bat. But there’s nothing more dangerous in a quasi law enforcement agent (these folks have badges) than a zealous belief combined with an unsound opinion. The prosecutor was either being a bully, actually believed that it is against the law to provide the client with discovery, or both. In either event, this person has the right to take pretty much anything to a grand jury, seek an indictment, and place the colleague’s career and life in jeopardy. The colleague would likely prevail in the end, but the journey would not be a fun one. So, I didn’t advise ignoring the prosecutor or giving the prosecutor a well-deserved middle finger. Here’s what I advised.

  1. Get the prosecutor to commit the threat to writing. I advised that the lawyer send an email to the prosecutor to confirm that the prosecutor actually held that position. Something along the lines of “Dear Eliot Ness. I’m just following up on our conversation about the Smith case. I want to see if it is still your position that you believe I am not allowed to share the discovery with Mr. Smith. Do you still believe that I cannot share it with my client? Do you still believe that I would break the law if I did so? In the event that I shared the discovery with my client, what would the State’s position about what should happen to me? I will assume that if I do not hear from you within 5 days, that you are holding course on what you told me, which is ‘_________.'” With any luck, the prosecutor will change course at this point and say so in writing. However, if the prosecutor maintains the same position, you have a statement in writing, which will be useful in point two.
  2. File a Motion. I advised that the lawyer then take the issue to the judge. The lawyer said what many lawyers say when I suggest filing a motion, which was “there’s a motion for this?” And I said, “yes, you can move for anything. Draft a motion entitled ‘Motion to Allow Defense Counsel to Provide Discovery to His Client.'” I suggested that the motion be constitutionalized, with a particular emphasis on the right to effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment and due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment. Remember the email that I advised the lawyer to get from the prosecutor? Attach it as Exhibit A. This email will prevent the DA from coming to court and saying, “I don’t know what Mr. Defense attorney is talking about. I never told him he couldn’t share discovery with his client.” The filing of the motion may force the DA to change course. If not, have a hearing.
  3. The Hearing. Hearings end one of two ways. You win or you lose. I told the lawyer that either is really good for his client. If the lawyer wins, further bullying from this DA might stop. The DA will likely be embarrassed. And the lawyer will come out of the hearing as the one with more credibility than his opposing counsel. If there are further discovery disputes, the defense attorney will likely be presumed right, and the DA will be operating under a cloud.
  4. If the Judge Rules with the DA, Oh What Fun! However, if the lawyer loses, then oh the fun that will be had as things unfold in the case. First, the lawyer will have planted reversible error in the record. Secondly, the lawyer will have a fun little tool to use at various stages as the case progresses. At the calendar call, if there’s some deadline to have decided whether to accept the State’s offer, the lawyer can say something like “Your honor, I understand that today is the deadline. However, I cannot advise my client whether to take the plea. Since he can’t view his discovery, he cannot assess whether this is a good offer or not.” If you get to trial, announce, “Judge, I cannot advise the client whether to testify. He is not allowed to see his discovery, and he cannot exercise this decision.” Even if the client takes a plea, the lawyer can say, “He feels hamstrung, judge. He’s taking this plea because he is afraid of facing a trial where he cannot know what is in his discovery.”
  5. Stop Subsequent Non-Written Communications with this DA. I advised this course for future cases. There are few DAs with whom I do not get along. However, for those, I limit person to person contact and conduct plea negotiations in writing. It actually makes life much more easy. I get what I need for the Court. And anything hinky can just get an exhibit sticker on it one day.
  6. A Kind Voice Turneth Away Wrath. So goes the Proverb. The louder, angrier, and less reasonable the DA is, the softer, happier, and more reasonable shall the defense attorney be. Don’t get in a spat with a DA in court. Efficiently and calmly make your record. Also, if the DA makes you mad, wait at least a day before deciding whether you will respond in kind. As Warren Buffett recently advised a young author, you can always tell them to go to Hell tomorrow. In other words, if you are going to take a harsh track, wait a day to see if you aren’t caught up in the emotion of the moment. You probably are.

Two New Justices on the Ga. Supreme Court? Why Would the Governor Make Such a Move?

Posted in News, Supreme Court of Georgia
Flickr CC Qalander

Flickr CC Qalander

Jim Galloway, in the Atlanta Journal’s Political Insider Blog, reports that the Governor is formulating a push in next year’s session of the legislature to increase Georgia’s seven-member Supreme Court by two justices.

Mr. Galloway opines that the governor’s move could expand his influence beyond his eight year tenure and compares a potential Franklin Roosevelt’s push, during the depression, to “pack” the court with like-minded Supreme Court justices. Such is an interesting take on the Gov.’s move. However, I don’t know that the comparison is necessarily apt. A presidential appointment certainly has the potential to expand a president’s influence beyond his own term. After all, United States Supreme Court justices have lifetime appointments. Also, the United States Supreme Court hears issues, in the aggregate, that are likely to shape the direction of public policy. While there are certain cases like that before the Georgia Supreme Court, that court also takes on its fair share of routine criminal and civil matters. Again, it’s an interesting theory. But I have never thought of George’s appellate courts as an extension of the governors who appointed the justices that sit on it. Perhaps I haven’t thought of it enough.

While the governor may have some hand in creating these new judgeships, his appointment would not extend for life. Georgia Supreme Court justices seek reelection at the end of their term. Though incumbency has its benefits, particularly in judicial elections. Interestingly, the Court of Appeals was expanded by three judges in the most recent legislative term. From an initial field of nominees of approximately 200, approximately 100 applicants remain.

Mr. Galloway reports that two “inducements” are on the table to increase the number of Supreme Court justices by two. There is a promise to build a new judicial building as well as talk of reducing the jurisdiction of the state Supreme Court. That jurisdiction is already significantly narrow. And it seems strange that the Supreme Court would undergo a historic expansion as part of a package deal to reduce the court workload. Also, it is difficult to imagine that either court would like such a proposal. For the Supreme Court, loss of jurisdiciton is a loss of power.

For the Court of Appeals, increased jurisdiction brings with it an increased caseload. It also seems odd that there would be a push to potentially increase the workload of the Court of Appeals. The Georgia Court of Appeals is known as one of the busiest if not the busiest intermediate appellate courts in the nation. The Georgia Court of Appeals hears on average about 3200 cases per year over the last five years. That workload means that each judge has a caseload of approximately 280. The addition of three Court of Appeals judges will significantly decrease the workload of each judge and probably increase the quality of opinions being authored as judges will have more time to spend on each case. By contrast, the seven justices on the Supreme Court here fewer direct appeals and have a good bit of discretion over their caseload where petitions come before them. I’m certainly not in the loop for any of this, but I wonder what category of cases would be taken away from the Supreme Court.

I will be interested to see how this all falls out and what the debate is about these two new additions. From a lawyer’s perspective, a move to increase the resources of either court is welcome. A better staffed court is can only help the litigants before it.

Were Briefs Better in the 40s-60s? If So, Why?

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

14244199385_7f444f30f1_zToday, I attended a continuing legal education seminar featuring Ross Guberman. Ross is the author of Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates. When his book first came out, I briefly reviewed it and interviewed Ross here on the blog. I have enjoyed Ross’s book immensely and have used it as a reference over the last few years.

I could write many blog posts on the points that Ross covered today. However, it was a minor point that intrigued me the most. Ross believes that briefs today are not as good as they were in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. Why is that so? Ross said that briefs were better when lawyers dictated their work rather than sitting at the keyboard and writing. When lawyers dictated, the product was conversational and direct. When lawyers sit behind the keyboard, our work tends to be less conversational and more cumbersome.

I believe that Ross is on to something. I have been on the fence about using Dragon Dictate, the Mac version of Dragon Naturally Speaking. I have had the software in some form on my computer for years. I go through spurts where I try to use it. In each instance, I have ultimately shelved the project for months before picking it up again. Now, dictation is a feature of my phone and iPad. I have been willing to dictate short projects and found it to be a good way to get work done.

However, I find the exercise of dictation to be easier for short documents or for lengthy summaries than for substantive writing projects such as briefs and complex motions. Even blog posts are difficult to imagine doing using any form of dictation (However, I am preparing this blog post using dictation software on my laptop.) I have feared that dictating a brief would be inferior to typing because of problems with citation and keeping the document organized as I write it. I’ve actually been afraid of dictating briefs and more complex writing.

Things may soon come full circle If the heyday of brief writing was a time before lawyers would sit down and type out documents, then software may actually be taking us back to a new golden age. Dictation, not to an assistant, but to the technology itself, is becoming easier.

I have had the fortune of being mentored by lawyers who dictate much of their work. These lawyers are good writers. They have encouraged me to dictate. While I do some dictation in a traditional setting, I think there is an opportunity for dictation to the technology itself. I can’t wait to give it a serious shot.

Client Intake to Build the Team

Posted in Attorney-Client Relationship

2369278479_294af9acda_zHiring a criminal defense attorney, whether at the trial court or appellate level, is a pretty complex thing. No matter how life-altering the case might be, the lawyer decision is huge. For the lawyer, taking on a client, whether at the trial court or appellate level, is a big decision, also. The client literally puts her life in the hands of the attorney. And the attorney makes a decision on taking the client that will have a significant impact on the lawyer’s life over the next few months to years. Not all clients and lawyers are a good fit for one another. I’ve learned that there are no small legal matters.

Any lawyer who has represented a client bound and determined to demonstrate that he was not, in fact, speeding, can attest that misdemeanors often mean as much to the client as the person that they are representing for murder. For both the attorney and the client, the decision to retain and to be retained is a big one. For that reason, I put a great deal of attention into the first client meeting.

  • The first meeting with the client is too important to waste any part of it. When I sit down with a client, I already know the charges or the essential facts about the conviction. I already know the client and family’s contact information. I generally have already obtained many of the important needed additional documents. From the moment that the client is seated in my conference room or office, we start talking about possible legal strategy and the next procedural steps. I do not like to spend the first 15-30 minutes getting background information such as DOB, phone number, and address. Our time is too valuable. And I strive to have a certain sense of mastery over the case before I meet with a client.
  • Our first contact usually involves me giving the client a homework assignment. Usually, I want, in writing, a narrative of the client’s basic bio, including criminal history, educational history, and work history. I want to know basic family information. I want to know how bond was made if it was not made yet. I want to know the identity of lawyers who have worked on the case before me. I want to hear the matter described in the client’s own words. If there’s a conviction, I want to know “what went wrong.” I will sometimes want to gather documents. Before we meet, I will want to know as much as I can about the client and the case. This process also give me an opportunity to see what it will be like to work with the client and for the client to see what it will be like to work with me.
  • Things I generally will not tell you on the phone.
    • What the cost will be.  No lawyer can really know what it will cost to represent you within seconds of talking to you on the phone. Cost is connected to complexity and experience. If a lawyer quickly tells you what something will cost over the telephone, he is either guessing or is trying to get you off the phone.
    • Whether I can “beat this.” First, we will not know the answer to this question until the case is over. And I will not be able to make even a rough assessment until I know something about this case. If a lawyers ever tells you that he “can beat this,” particularly on the first phone call, then run quickly away from this lawyer.
    • Whether I believe a certain set of things to be true. I don’t make guilt/innocence decisions within seconds. I don’t commit to any belief that anything either is or is not true. I commit to keeping an open mind about anything I might here, whether from the client, the person who made the arrest decision, or any witness. But I’m not going to lie to a client or pretend to have committed to any belief in anything within seconds of speaking on the phone. Clients probably do not want a lawyer who is either that gullible or dishonest.
  • By the time we meet, I will have thought about your case. When you hire me, we will have some momentum going. Or, if you don’t hire me, you will walk away with a better understanding of what will come next. I put more into an initial meeting than many lawyers. But I also recognize that my decision to take your case and your decision to retain me is a huge one.

I’m learning to fly. And the process of finding an instructor is about as close as I have come to what it must be like to be looking to hire an attorney. I interviewed four different prospective flight instructors before committing to the one who is putting up with me now as we go up in a plane that is about the size of a Volkswagen. The teacher I chose came to our first meeting prepared. He had a syllabus, and he took the time to explain the process. He then introduced me to another flight instructor because he was concerned with me finding somebody who was the right fit, even if he was not that person. He was the flight instructor version of me as a a lawyer. I also got the very real sense that he was sizing me up as a prospective student.

I am not sure what other lawyers do, but this is my process. I field more calls from prospective clients than clients who hire me. I meet with more clients than clients who hire me. Some clients want to hire a lawyer as fast as possible. Some clients are looking to pay as little as possible. Some clients are not a good fit for me. I also have gotten into the process and learned that the client is not the client for me. But I am deliberate about the process because I know that I’m not the lawyer for every client and not ever client is the right client for me. I also know that it is easier to put some work in to find the right fit than it is to get into an attorney-client relationship where we are not.