During a recent trial by a colleague, it came out that defense counsel had obtained information that had been disseminated to a Plaintiff’s bar listserv. This meant that one of our colleagues had betrayed the trust that is inherent in such a system – indeed, mandatory. In all of the hullaballoo that came out regarding the mole, one post stood out from a colleague, Dax Jones. Its a good reminder of why we do what we do as Plaintiff’s attorneys, and worth sharing:
My wife and I welcomed our second daughter this week. As I sat in the hospital admiring our newborn’s sleeping face, I thought, “I wonder what kind of a world she will experience?” Despite all that had changed for our newborn from the few hours prior to the birth to the few hours post birth, she was sleeping very calmly. I shared to those in the room a comment about how she was the picture of peace despite the magnitude of change she just went through.
Then I came home and saw the thread regarding “The Mole”.
As I drifted to sleep last evening, I had a thought that I wanted to share. I tend to think that a “mole” isn’t a way of acting but is a character trait. It’s a way of seeing the world, as if we as people in one society need to leverage trust for our gain. It’s disappointing to me as a person, lawyer, and dad. I like to think that those that fight for fairness (whether a plaintiff or defense attorney) won’t be underhanded in their dealings. I expect more of a plaintiff attorney than a defense attorney because we have the privilege of wearing the white hats. We get to fight for the little guy against the giants with resources the likes of which we don’t have. In keeping with that, we as plaintiff lawyers should see and respect the fact that our biggest weapon is our integrity, honesty, and our name.
Our name, though, is not just Dax Jones, or Karen Koehler, or any of us, it is all of us. It is us as ‘lawyers,’ regardless for what side of the courtroom we occupy.
As i left the hospital i spoke to the nurse, and she asked what i do. I said, “I am an attorney.” She cringed. I asked her for a minute of her time and a chance to share my story about why I love what I get to do.
I didn’t get the sixty seconds.
On the way home, I thought about why she wasn’t willing to do that. Beyond her busy schedule, I came to think that our profession needs to represent itself better, not just our clients. We need to understand that we are seen as one and we need to respect the trust we are given by the community as a whole. When we act as moles or use dishonesty for gain, we undercut ourselves and everyone that is in our group. We take a step back and put another brick in our way. We may win the motion, case, and a few more bucks, but the battle isn’t the goal – winning the war of credibility is the goal. So if the advantage given by the mole’s act hurt Karen’s efforts and helped the defense attorney’s, the war wages on. Credibility is integrity, and it shines through. I trust karen will win the war. I believe good prevails. Juries may or may not be savvy – but they are all people who feel what we say before they hear what we say. They feel our character despite our suits, glasses, and pens. We need them to feel our integrity.
We can all learn from kids. At least I hope.
Well said, Dax. Well said.