Do you know any lawyers who’ll do whatever their clients tell them to do?  Or, worse, whatever they think their clients want them to do?  Who leap whenever clients say jump — and out of habit pirouette even when they don’t hear their masters’ voice?

Blawgletter hopes you don’t know any like that.  Blawgletter also wishes that our profession didn’t have any either.

The lawyer’s job doesn’t consist in doing others’ bidding.  It instead involves zealously seeking legitimate client goals through fair, honest, and proper means.  Weak lawyers — however smart and regardless of their credentials — take zeal for the client’s interest beyond its proper sphere.  They lose themselves, and their duties to our profession and the public, in their clients’ shadow.  They may prosper for a time, but no one will admire them or, more important, trust them for the thing that, in Blawgletter’s view, defines the lawyer’s role — independent professional judgment.

As the country music song says, you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.

Get to the point, Blawgletter hears you say.  Okay, then.  Clients who hire weak lawyers seek them out precisely for their weakness.  They don’t want independent professional judgment.  They want their way.  And Blawgletter suspects that they also hold the law and its practitioners in something near contempt.

We’ve read and heard a lot in the last week about the ousting of lawyers who didn’t show as much loyalty to their client as the client wished.  We also know that other lawyers, believing they did what the client desired, developed and executed the particulars of the dismissal plan.  Blawgletter believes that the oustees should wear their cashiering as a badge of pride and a symbol of strength.  They did their job.

The real weak performers — the weakling lawyers who ousted the strong ones in the client’s name — remain at their posts, ready to provide similar services to their client again.  Fredo lives.  For now.

Barry Barnett

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