April 02, 2019

Representing the Unpopular Client or Cause

André C. Wharton

The job of solo and small firm practitioners is difficult but invaluable to our system of justice; nowhere is this clearer than in the representation of “sensitive” or “high-profile” (read: unpopular) cases or clients. I have seen this firsthand, having practiced now regularly in the areas of civil defense, criminal defense, personal injury, employment law, juvenile law, and a host of other areas and having handled numerous cases of this sort. Solos and small firms often institute such litigation or, in criminal matters, provide the true measuring stick for our justice system. Without the work of these attorneys, many criminal cases that society considers to be heinous or reflective of a systemic problem would be thrust upon public defenders whose offices are already short of resources and financially strapped. And the benefits flow both ways: Without accepting the ostensibly unpopular case, many small defense firms would not have the billable work they need to survive. Ultimately, these cases may be challenging, but they are a necessary and integral component of our justice system, both civil and criminal.

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