By: Alan Freed
I didn’t start law school until six years after I graduated from college, and I’ve now practiced law for almost four decades. The law wasn’t an obvious choice for me. There were no lawyers in my family, so I had few preconceived notions about what lawyers do, and most of those notions were formed from TV and the movies.
The lawyers I saw on the small screen in the 60s were all of the criminal defense variety. Shows like “The Defenders” and “Perry Mason” spotlighted men (and they were always men) whose aim was to protect the wrongly-accused and find the real perpetrators.
The movie lawyers were no different. Everyone remembers Atticus Finch from the 60s, but even later, as we saw lawyers dealing with environmental issues (“Erin Brockovich”) and violations of civil rights (“Philadelphia”), the lawyers we admired were winning big stakes battles in courtrooms.
TV and movie trials make for great entertainment, but most of what we lawyers do is far less dramatic, yet no less important to the typical client.
- Lawyers are legal counselors. We inform and advise our clients, helping them understand the intricacies of the law and guiding their decisions, including whether going to trial is in their best interests.
- Lawyers are strategists. We gather the facts to plot out a path we hope will achieve the best results for our clients.
- Lawyers are negotiators. We work to understand all aspects of a controversy so we are best situated to persuade our opponent to agree to terms advantageous to our clients.
- Lawyers are researchers. We spend hours reviewing precedent both to educate ourselves and so that we can educate our opponents and judges.
- Lawyers are writers. Being persuasive often means making the best use of language. Great legal writing convinces far better than raising one’s voice.
- Lawyers are technicians. Sometimes what you want is someone who can form a corporation, draft a will or trust, or guide you through an administrative process. Not everything we do involves a controversy.
- Lawyers can be arbitrators and mediators. Resolving a case without a trial is frequently the best option, and a good mediator or arbitrator can often conclude a case more efficiently than a court process.
Of course, sometimes lawyers do what you see them do in the movies and on TV: They try cases. Those trials don’t look a lot like the screen variety because the legal process is necessarily slow and tedious. A trial lawyer brings multiple skills to the courtroom: verbal mastery, strategy, persuasion, and knowledge of the law and the rules of evidence.
A good lawyer will listen to you, assess your situation, offer you options, explain your alternatives, and stand by your side as you deal with your problem or issue. You don’t always need Perry Mason. Sometimes you need a reliable, responsive, knowledgeable, and highly skilled professional.
The lawyers of Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal are happy to assist you, whatever your legal need.