Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Civil Lawyers, Come Here, Closer, Listen Up

Every so often criminal lawyers have the "joy" of interacting with a civil lawyer in the course of a criminal case.

Now look, I don't like to generalize. There are good and bad lawyers in every field, on every side. In general though, civil lawyers have a method of practice that is very different from criminal practice.

So civil lawyers, come here, closer, listen up:

[1] I went to law school too. There was nothing I read in school or in the last 15 years that mandates "confirmatory letters." I know you get .3 in billable time for writing and sending them, but I won't read them. I won't write them either. When you tell me something, I may scribble it somewhere, but that's for me. See, in criminal law if a prosecutor or defense lawyer doesn't keep their word, it gets around the courthouse in about 23 minutes. I know you come from the school of thought that every lawyer is a blood sucking not-to-be-trusted liar. That's your problem, not mine.

[2] I don't care about your schedule, just like you don't care about mine when you call and give me a deadline to call you back (followed up by a confirmatory letter) "or else."

[3] Court scares you, not me. So don't threaten me with "going to court." I love going to court. I love going to civil court where all the former criminal judges ask "are you lost Mr. Tannebaum?" "What are you doing here?" Trial? please. When we starting big guy?

[4] Cut the crap with telling me every time I ask for a courtesy that you "have to talk to my client." I don't care how "impatient" or "upset" your client is. My client may go to jail and the fact that your client wants a check isn't my priority. I'll try to help, but stop trying to make me believe that your client has to approve of you acting like a normal human being.

[5] Stop telling me you either "used to do some criminal," or "don't know anything about criminal," (with that holding-your-nose attitude). The fact is, you're not a criminal lawyer, and I'm not really interested in hearing about your distant history or lack of knowledge about what I do as if it makes you a better person.

And to those of you that don't do this stuff, call anytime. (I put that in writing for you)

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit

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