There are so many lies misrepresentations about lawyers and what they do, as they’re portrayed in pop culture, that one blog post really isn’t sufficient. But I’ll start with what I think is obvious.
I was reading a certain book about comedy (which will remain unnamed), and it mentioned the movie Liar, Liar. And it said something to the effect that the lawyer protagonist was going against his nature when his son’s wish that he not tell a lie come true. Why? Because he’s a lawyer, so of course he’s a liar. Right?
Despite popular opinion to the contrary, lawyers are not liars. At least, not the good ones. And, in fact, that was the message in Liar, Liar. By being forced not to lie, the protagonist discovered that he could actually be, not just a better person, but also a better lawyer.
And, if you’ve never seen the movie, I urge you to see it and tell me what you think.
Lawyers may emphasize facts that help their clients, i.e., the facts that make case law that supports their position applicable to their client. But they may not misrepresent the facts, i.e., tell falsehoods. That doesn’t mean they have to point out everything the other side would want noted. That’s the other attorney’s job. And to argue facts that hurt your client would violate yet another ethical rule: the rule of zealous representation.
It is a lawyer’s job to zealously represent their client’s interests. This is true no matter how greedy, stupid, or ridiculous the client is. If they have a right, the lawyer must make them aware of it. And if the client asserts a right and it’s a righteous right (so to speak), the lawyer can counsel them on the wisdom of pursuing a course of action. However, the final decision rests with the client and short of firing the client (a thing which has been done—sometimes with difficulty), the lawyer’s job is to zealously protect the client’s rights.
Yes, people. This is the truth. Trust me! I used to do this for a living.
So, in the Sam McRae novels, I always emphasize this, because being honest can make investigating crime more difficult. While Sam will do everything in her power to help her clients and zealously represent them, she won’t violate the ethical rules about not lying to do it.
She might do what’s called skating close to the edge, but if she does, it’s to follow her “inner compass” as to what justice requires in the situation. Personally, I think that makes her nothing less than human.
To check Sam McRae out for yourself, click here to get a sample from her first novel, the New York Times ebook bestselling novel Identity Crisis! 🙂