Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Let’s Succeed “Like a Girl”!

I came across a great video campaign created by Always. It was created to address the fact that many girls experience a dramatic drop in self confidence during their developmental years, in part because of seemingly minor issues like the derogatory use of the phrase “like a girl”. The video struck a chord with me, and if you haven’t seen it, take the time to watch:

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Yates Case Argued Before the Supreme Court

Last week, the Supreme Court heard argument in U.S. v. Yates, which addresses the use of the Sarbanes Oxley destruction of evidence statute to prosecute a Florida man relating to the destruction of fish. Yes you read correctly… fish.

John L. Yates was charged in federal court in Tampa Florida under the Sarbanes-Oxley’s “anti-shredding provision” for destroying fish when he was stopped and it was discovered that he had 72 red grouper, a protected species, that were under the federal 20-inch limit, on board his fishing vessel. He was cited, the fish were boxed up, and he was instructed to bring them to the official when he docked. When he did, the box contained only 69 fish. One of the crewmembers later stated he was instructed by Yates to throw three fish overboard. Yates’ attorney filed motions arguing that the Sarbanes-Oxley statute only applied to the destruction of documents and not to fish, which were denied. Yates went to trial and was found guilty. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail but was facing twenty years in prison. Yes, you read correctly… twenty years for destroying three fish.

His lead counsel is the Federal Defender for the Middle District of Florida, Donna Lee Elm.Shewas quoted as saying “This is a statute relating to records, including tangible objects related to records. A fish does not contain records. One cannot make a false entry in a fish.”

Read the Scotus Blog entry titled Justices Take the measure of a fish in plain English, which is a great summary of the intense questions and comments from the Justices. For once I was cheering Scalia on as he peppered the Government with questions like, “What kind of mad prosecutor… would ask for twenty years in prison for destroying fish?” We all have had the misfortune of dealing with absurd cases in our careers but I must admit this one takes the cake. What an absolute waste of governmental resources to prosecute this man in this instance.

Stay tuned for a decision in June. Whatever the holding, Yates will have a profound impact on our criminal justice system. If the Supreme Court upholds the application of this statute in this instance, the use of what has become commonly known as the “anti-shredding provision” of Sarbanes-Oxley will have endless applications.

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Let There Be Tears

I just came across an article about a woman criminal defense attorney from Michigan, Cheryl Carpenter. Carpenter got a ridiculous amount of media attention for becoming emotional when arguing for leniency in the sentencing of Theodore Wafer, who was convicted and sentenced for the second-degree murder of a young girl who he claimed he shot in self defense. USA Today and New York Times noted that she cried, and one of the articles went so far as to say that she “wept”. I was stunned that the fact that a seasoned litigator who poured her heart and soul into fighting for a man accused of second degree murder and shed some tears was worthy of a story. The case received national attention throughout the trial and during the sentencing as well.

Carpenter was so exhausted and emotionally drained after the case that she made a decision to close her office and take a year sabbatical to focus more time on her young kids and family. Anyone working in the criminal defense trenches understands that need. This is a tough job that takes its toll on you emotionally and physically. She is blogging about that decision here. And then the decision to take time off became news worthy and she was interviewed by the Detroit News about the case and her emotional reaction during sentencing.

What both amazed and angered me was how badly she was made to feel about becoming emotional during the sentencing. She was quoted in the Detroit News as saying she was horrified upon reflection that she had cried. She talks in her blog about feeling shame about this fact, but in fairness she also discusses trying to understand why there needs to be shame associated to lawyers showing and feeling emotion. Now, that is the worthy discussion.

I was so struck by the comment of her being horrified that I took the time to find the argument to get a sense of her emotional reaction. Did she break out in a sob? What was so horrifying? I had to see for myself.

Much to my surprise her emotional reaction was restrained and professional, and she certainly wasn’t weeping. Her plea for the man that she represented was eloquent, powerful, and passionate. In all honesty I have gotten far more emotional than that on behalf of a client. There was nothing shameful about it. Why would any client want a lawyer that has no feeling for them or the gravity of their situation?

Lawyers who robotically represent criminal clients without feeling or regard for what they are going through are the ones who should feel embarrassed. Not Cheryl Carpenter. She did a beautiful job for her client and I personally want her to know that I thought her showing of emotional was needed and necessary. And I can’t help but wonder if there would be the need for so much discussion about the tears if she weren’t female. Would it have been equally worthy to keep discussing this fact if she wasn’t an emotional female lawyer? Regardless of the reason, I say let there be tears when we represent our clients and let us not be afraid to show them when it is appropriate.

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Current Happenings for Women Criminal Lawyers

Women criminal lawyer groups and criminal defense organizations continue to create opportunities for women to connect, support, and learn from one another:

The DC Women’s White Collar Defense Association is holding a luncheon today October 29, 2014 at 12:30pm hosted by Crowell & Moring, 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. It will be a great opportunity to network with women in the field. The two previous events organized by the DC group have been a “who’s who” of powerful women lawyers, featuring Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White. To learn more about the Women White Collar Defense Association click here.

NACDL’s 10th Annual White Collar Seminar will be held in Washington DC from November 5 through 7th, with the Fall Board meeting being held the morning of November 8th. It is always a terrific seminar and if you are a white-collar practitioner, it is a must-attend seminar. The NACDL’s Women’s Initiative has organized a networking lunch on November 7th at a local restaurant called Mio Restaurant, 1110 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, DC which is very close to the conference location. For more information on how to RSVP see the agenda here.

NACDL just released a new CLE DVD called Women Defenders: The Best of the Best featuring some of the best women defenders in the country sharing their experience and knowledge. The DVD is a collection of live seminar lectures from the women who received the highest ratings from seminar attendees. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a percentage of all the proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

There are many opportunities for women criminal practitioners to get involved in the ABA Criminal Justice Section. I am honored to be serving as co-chair of the Defense Function Committee with Jon Sands this year. One of our stated goals is to support “Women and Diversity: The face and color of the legal profession is changing. The defense function must make every effort to reflect and incorporate the change in the legal profession. Women are increasingly over half of law school graduates. They must be brought into the fold, and provided with the support, and opportunities that see them achieve leadership roles in the criminal defense field and in local, state and national bars. Diversity encompasses race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, culture and also age. The criminal defense function must do a better job of ensuring diversity.” And there are plenty of other opportunities for women criminal lawyers to become more engaged and connect with other women throughout the country through the ABA Criminal Justice Section: There is the Women in Criminal Justice Committee and the Women in White Collar Subcommittee of the White Collar Crime Division.

Get engaged and involved, you won’t be sorry that you did. And I hope to see you at either one of the NACDL events or the next ABA Criminal Justice event.

What Makes a Great Defender: Advice from the Foxhole

The traits that make a great defender are listed in no particular order, because depending on the case, the order of importance varies. I haven’t included traits that are universal, such as “always be prepared” because that goes without saying. Also, I am only providing nine, because ten is what you expect, and as a criminal defense lawyer, I always want to go with the unexpected!

1. Good sleep habits! This is no joke. The patience, energy, creativity, tenacity, and resiliency necessary for the great criminal defense lawyer are qualities that are sapped by not enough sleep. Of course, everyone needs sleep, but a criminal defense lawyer is in the foxhole every day, and life in the foxhole is emotionally and physically draining. A good night’s sleep prepares you for battle. Also, try this trick: go to sleep thinking about a difficult problem in your case; wake up with the answer. While you sleep, your brain is billing!

2. The ability to rely on others: all lawyers are control freaks and criminal defense lawyers are the most controlling of all. It’s no mystery: so much can go wrong, so much is at stake and we have so little real control. But every successful criminal defense lawyer I know has someone who has their back: a partner, an associate, a paralegal, or a secretary. For my friends who fly solo it can be their office mate, or if they are a member of NACDL or an affiliate, their colleagues on the listserv. Criminal defense work has a million sensitive decision points – you need to get advice, feedback and sometimes, just a reality check.

3. The Double Whammy: the ability to see the forest AND the trees. This is one of the many life lessons I learned at NCDC when I was a baby defender: overall themes are crucial to every stage of the game, from investigation to trial, and even to appeal and habeas. On the other hand, your defense theory relies on every detail lining up: your theory is only as good as your facts, and as we all know, facts are stubborn things.

4. Conviction: when I was a young defender I realized that I was the only person in the court room who believed what I believed (including my client!) and the process of persuading others to come over to my view of things was only possible if I could argue with conviction. When you litigate with conviction, you are believable — and the fact finders, whether judge or jury, can “hear” your arguments.

5. Credibility: I’ve never gone wrong staying on the high road no matter how low the prosecution goes. Judges like it, juries respect it, and clients who don’t appreciate it are better off in somebody else’s office. Also, when you are on the high road, it is often possible to require your adversary to stay up there with you.

6. Time management practices that provide you with the mental space to properly research and ponder your legal issues and your case. In the olden days, we used to go to the library, take out books, and read cases in hard copy. Sometimes, other lawyers would wander in and talk about your case with you. It was the most wonderful creative process and it didn’t include a cell phone or a blackberry. You need to be able to create that space for yourself now, and that’s a time management issue. Try saying to your client: I will get back to you with an answer tomorrow. It feels great and a client can understand that their problem is important and complex enough to require real thought.

7. Patience and resilience: cases sometimes progress poorly in the beginning, but that doesn’t mean they’ll end up that way. Be patient with the process, with your clients, and even with the prosecutor. When things go wrong, don’t despair; when obstacles arise, go around them. We start out with the facts and the law against us, with a dearth of information, and a well-armed and well-informed adversary. Big gains are often made incrementally and you need to accept and be prepared for that.

8. Care about your client. Caring about my clients keeps them on my mind so when I’m shopping, commuting, gardening, etc., I’m thinking about my client’s problems. The more I think, the more I get good ideas. Over the years, it’s been those “good ideas” that have created opportunities for success and good results. Also, the cared-about client is the client who can be patient and supportive, rather than undermining your good work.

9. Creativity and tenacity: solutions to difficult problems don’t reveal themselves easily. You need to be willing to try ideas that seem counter intuitive until you get to the right one. And don’t give up – keep thinking and trying, because that’s what you do when liberty is at issue. This comes back to where we started: a good night’s sleep: when something goes wrong in my cases, if it’s my fault, I wake up with a sick feeling in the middle of the night. When I’ve tried everything I can but I still get a bad result, I don’t lose sleep over it, because tomorrow is another day in the foxhole.

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Why Women’s Initiatives Matter

This week I received an email from Paula Henderson, an attorney and a fellow NACDL board member and I wanted to share it with you. She does a wonderful job of identifying the very specific challenges that we face as female criminal defense attorneys – and she reminds us of why it’s so important for us to continue to get together, build relationships, and form networks with fellow women criminal attorneys. I hope you find it as moving as I did!

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I was in a boutique last week and a piece of costume jewelry caught my attention. Imprinted on a piece of decorative metal attached to a leather bracelet were the following words: STRONG WOMEN, May We Know Them, May We Raise Them, May We Be Them. These words struck many chords with me. My daughter’s face immediately came to me. She, with all her nine-year-old enthusiasm, charm, and wit, looked at me as I measured myself against the standard embodied on that piece of costume jewelry.

Then, my thoughts turned to the strong women I have known. Some of the strongest women I know are relatively new to my life, having met them through NACDL over the last couple of years. They are some of the finest legal strategists and litigators in the profession of criminal defense law. Female criminal defense lawyers are a different breed. And in our individual towns and communities, we are also a very rare breed. The field of criminal defense is predominantly male and finding female colleagues with whom to commiserate in this particular arena proved challenging, UNTIL I began participating in NACDL.

Women like Ellen Brotman – a skilled listener and analyst, Susan Bozorgi – a fighter who knows why she fights, Elizabeth Kelley – organized, thorough, and fiercely focused, Melinda Sarafa – deadly in diplomacy in a courtroom or boardroom, and Lisa Wayne – the sword and shield personified with the ability to command and captivate an audience. These women, and so many more like them, fill the working ranks of NACDL. And I am honored to serve alongside them.   I have learned from them, been encouraged by them, and most importantly, I have been inspired by them.

The women of NACDL hail from different backgrounds. We have different religious beliefs and different political beliefs. Some of us are parents. Some of us are not. We live in big cities and small towns.   We do not boast. We are not arrogant. We are resolute in our belief that we have been entrusted with protecting our clients. We listen to their stories. We absorb their fear, desperation, and anger. We hold their hands, hug their necks, talk to their families, and earn their trust. Our clients’ struggles become our own. We go as far and as long into their battles as the battlefield before us allows. And we do it day in and day out usually in heels. Sometimes, we struggle to meet the demands of the oaths we swore while meeting the other demands that life places upon us. We get fatigued, frustrated, and burdened, but one thing rings true of these strong female criminal defense lawyers – We will rise.

Strong female criminal defense lawyers refuse to be victims of a system, a society, or a negative mind set. We summon our strength, skills, and intellect and carry on. The motions will be argued, the pleadings will be drafted, the research will get completed, and the cases will get tried. Beyond that, we are grateful to receive a heartfelt “thank you” or a “nice job” by a colleague. Then, it’s on to the next client, the next pleading, the next hearing, and the next trial. That may sound like drudgery to some, but to us, it is a life fueled by high ideals like freedom, forgiveness, hope, and human compassion. And every once in awhile, we may get an unexpected but much appreciated boost of encouragement like the one I received when I overheard someone telling my daughter how her mom saved a man’s life today.

So, here’s to all those strong women who are criminal defense lawyers. May you always be strong and may each of you experience the privilege of saving someone’s life. Thank you for your legacy.

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Progress and Setbacks for Women in Law

Let’s start with the good news! Just this month, two women joined the ranks of a small but growing number of female law firm leaders as two large law firms named women as their chairs for the first time in their history. Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP just announced that litigator Jami Wintz McKeon will become the first woman chair of the firm, and Bryan Cave LLP announced that Therese Pritchard will become their firm’s first female chair. Pritchard, one of our own, is a white-collar litigator. She was quoted as saying “I think the playing field is leveling out, and I think firms can select leaders from a more diverse talent pool than ever before,” and “I do remember the days when I was for the most part the only woman in the room.” Other women heading big law firms include Kim Koopersmith of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Jerry K. Clements at Locke Lord LLP.

This is just because I love the quote: A partner at Dechert, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, who is married to the United Kingdom’s deputy prime minister was recently quoted as saying “I am being asked all the time ‘Do you want to have it all,’ and I don’t want to have it all – I want to have what men have” she told the BBC, “So if many men have children and a job, and that’s what they choose, I do not know why I cannot have that, if that’s what I choose.”

And now, some alarming facts: The Careerist reported last month that Women Lawyers are Falling Behind in Client Development More Than Ever. This slap-in-the-face statement comes from statistics generated by the Major, Lindsey & Africa’s 2014 Partner Compensation Survey which reports that male partners reported average originations of $2.9 million in 2014, an 8 percent increase over 2012, while female partners reported average originations of $1.24 million in 2014, which was a 12 percent decline. The spread between male and female originations is now 77%, a significantly higher spread than the 50% in 2010 and 44% percent in 2012. Vivian Chen notes that this gap is especially alarming considering the existing gap in compensation ($779,000 for men versus $531,000 for women) and predicted that in combination that this “means that women are unlikely to achieve pay and power equity anytime soon. If ever.”

So what is the takeaway from these developments? First, that the need for the continued conversation is real. Second, the conversation is evolving, and so are we, as we strive to understand and find our unique path to success as women lawyers. And, finally, that one of the critical building blocks to barriers being broken and ceilings being smashed wide open is that we reach a critical mass of women in positions of leadership.

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Interview with Claire Rauscher

CRThis week I had the opportunity to interview Claire J. Rauscher. Claire is a partner with Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice in Charlotte, North Carolina. She concentrates her practice in the area of white-collar defense. Prior to joining Womble Carlyle, she had her own law firm and later became the first Executive Director of the Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina from 2005 to 2011. Before relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1994, she was an assistant federal defender and assistant public defender in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Besides her current law practice, she also is an adjunct professor at Wake Forest Law School and Charlotte School of Law as well as a frequent speaker at continuing legal education and trial advocacy programs. I met Claire through some mutual friends and always look forward to connecting with her at national women’s events. She is truly committed to supporting women in the field and has made huge strides to break the glass ceiling for women in North Carolina in the white-collar field. I know I enjoyed learning more about Claire’s vast criminal defense experience and I hope you’ll love getting to know Claire Rauscher as much as I have.

What are the most striking changes for women criminal lawyers that you have witnessed during over 30 years of practice in the field?

First of all, there are more women in the criminal practice than ever before, especially in federal court. When I started practicing in federal courts, there were very few women criminal defense attorneys and a few female prosecutors. Second, women are beginning to create their own referral networks. This development is long overdue and will continue to assist female practitioners in their practice growth.

You have extensive experience practicing in both the public and private sectors of criminal defense and in fact served as the Executive Director of the Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina after having had your own private practice for years, how have these vastly different practices shaped the lawyer that you are today?

I have a true appreciation for the struggles that women practitioners face in the private sector. Women have to prove themselves every day and work hard to get referrals and well-paying work whereas men can easily rely on their own networks. I also understand why many women prefer to be in public defender offices where they receive a set salary with benefits and they can do the work they enjoy without having to worry about the next case coming through the door. My experiences have made me truly appreciative of where I am today and I don’t take it for granted.

What would you tell a young female lawyer deciding whether to pursue a public sector job compared to a private sector job?

I would suggest they start out in the public sector since that is where you can obtain a lot of experience in a short amount of time. Public sector jobs provide an instant network of contacts that can be helpful when transitioning to the private sector.

Your practice is now largely focused on white-collar defense, what do you think are the challenges and obstacles that women face in the white-collar field and what do you think women need to be doing more of to break through?

Unfortunately, most in house counsel and general counsel do not immediately think of women attorneys when they are facing white-collar problems. Most firm white-collar practice groups are headed by men. Men also seem to do a better job of self-promotion regarding their results. Women need to be better at public relations and selling themselves and their results. It is not something that most of us do well. We need to be more proactive in promoting ourselves and our colleagues. We need to create strong networking groups in our areas of expertise and refer work to one another whenever possible. Only when the corporate community sees and hears about more women in the field (and their successes) will these obstacles be overcome.

Aside from hard work, what do you attribute to your success?

I love what I do. I think my enthusiasm and interest in my work is obvious to others and has led to my success.   Recently, my daughter told me that she wanted to find a career path like mine because she never saw me not want to go to work in the morning. When she said that to me, I was so proud and gratified to be able to provide that type of example for her – and it made realize how much I really do enjoy the work!

Of the women criminal defense attorneys that you know and admire what made them stand out to you? Why did they inspire you?

When I was first hired at the public defender’s office in Philadelphia, the head of training and the then first assistant (now head defender) were women. Both had been criminal defense attorneys for years and were willing to share their experiences and lend support whenever needed. They were my cheerleaders and made me feel like I could win every case I tried. Their confidence in my abilities empowered me to push through the large dockets and difficult moments. I recognized if they were able to be successful in a system almost exclusively dominated by men (at the time), I could certainly plow through a system weighted against the indigent clients and fight for just results.

As an example, one day I was before a judge who told my client’s mother not to listen to me because I did not know what was in the best interest of her son.   I was so angry after having spent an entire week being belittled by this judge, that I threw my files into the air and stormed out of the courtroom. When the deputy came out to tell me to come back in the courtroom, I refused until the judge apologized. To make a long story short, when I got back to the office, I told the head defender what happened. She immediately picked up the phone and called the judge. She demanded that he apologize and fully defended me. It was a day I won’t forget (the judge did make a half-ass apology the next day). She took on a powerful judge that could have taken some action against me and/or the office but she fought for me and what was right.

What has been your most effective business development initiative?

Going to (non-legal) women’s events. I get to meet women from other industries and am able to tell them about what I do without competing with other lawyers.

What is your proudest moment in representing a client?

Successfully defending a client in a capital case. There is no greater pressure and no greater reward than saving a life.

Best advice you ever received?

Keep your overhead low and you will be able to create a sustainable practice through the good and bad times.

Moment you knew you had made it?

When I was preparing to leave my position as a federal public defender and a bidding war began involving a number of firms. I ultimately had the opportunity to join my current firm as a partner.

One thing people who know you don’t know about you?

Many people know that I am a Division I Volleyball official but most people don’t know that I am truly a sports-aholic. I am an avid fantasy football player. I don’t play in money leagues but enjoy playing for pride. I can out-talk most men about sports!

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Emma Watson Reminds Us That Feminism isn’t Just a Women’s Issue

Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione, the bossy Harry Potter gal pal, delivered an impassioned speech to the United Nations on September 20th about feminism and the struggle for gender equality around the world. The speech was in honor of the launch of the HeForShe campaign in her role as United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador. The focus of the campaign is that feminism and supporting gender equality is not just a women’s issue but also a men’s issue – and it’s time that men get on board. Watson said “The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

If you haven’t heard the speech, it is worth your time to listen to what she had to say. Although I find her words and delivery compelling, I think what is truly compelling is that a twenty something year old woman that has just finished college can be such a strong voice for feminism. It is also compelling to hear her share that in spite of her privileged upbringing that gender inequality has still touched her life. The speech has been all over the Internet and social media. CNN reported that Watson gave feminism a new life. Vanity Fair wrote that Watson Delivered a Game-Changing Speech on Feminism.

And Emma Watson is not the only star throwing their hat in the ring. Beyonce made a strong statement in support of feminism at MTV’s Video Music Awards. During her performance, she had the word FEMINIST in huge letters behind her in the back of the stage. And the statement she made spread in the media like wildfire. Feminism is the new “It girl.” The Huffington Post reported on the phenomenon in an article titled Beyonce’s Feminist VMAs Performance Got People Talking About Gender Equality.

Obviously both of these women bring star power to the feminist cause and they have the power to engage the world in the conversation. We continue to need more and more women and men like them to stand up. But their voices are not the only ones that can effect true change; each of us must stand up and courageously say we support gender equality and feminism. I hope you’ll join the movement!

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: What Makes a Great Defender

The primary goal of this blog is to highlight women in the criminal defense field and to draw attention to the great work that they do. We try to accomplish this is several ways – from interviewing leaders in the field to shining a spotlight on current cases involving fellow women defense attorneys.

Today, we are going to launch a new series. I want to give women in our field the opportunity to share their thoughts about what it takes to be a great defender. I think that this could be a valuable way to help younger female criminal lawyers learn what it takes to do this job well. In this first installment, I am going to share some of my thoughts and talk about what motivates me. In future installments, we will open up the floor and hear from other women criminal defense attorneys.

I am one of those criminal defense attorneys that believe that it is honor to represent my clients. In fact, as many can attest, I really like my clients. I don’t think it is cool to walk around calling your clients names or making fun of them, which we have all heard before. I am not embarrassed to admit that I have gotten choked up at trial or a sentencing. Most of our clients, even corporations, which are made up of real people last I looked, are facing consequences that sometimes warrant emotion. And I believe that the people who decide our clients’ fate, both judges and jurors, should be confronted with the emotional reality of those serious decisions.

I tell jurors that every year I do this job I am more and more humbled by the significance and privilege that it is to stand with a person in their darkest and toughest hours. I fight for every client like it is my last client. They get every ounce of fight in me. My motto is to never give up and I don’t. I have been called determined, relentless, and dogged. And for my clients I am all of those things.

I am fortunate to be able to say I don’t take tons of clients because it allows me to focus on my role of guiding and protecting the ones that I do have in the criminal justice system. And I think they are better for it. For me representing a client is a holistic and organic process. From the moment I begin representing a client I start using the word “we”, because from my perspective we are in this together. And I work on getting to know my clients, their stories, and their experiences because I believe it serves my ability to tell their story and their perspective.

Of course it is not always easy and there are challenging attorney-client relationships. But when it is hard I dig down and remind myself of how scared and afraid the client must be and I go back at it and try even harder. And often I am more surprised than anyone at what I find. I am thinking of a specific case where the client and I had a really tough time relating and once I dug down and pushed through it either I was able to see something that I was blind to, or the client was able to finally trust me. And, that critical fact that we uncovered saved the client 28 months in prison.

So what makes a great defender? From my perspective, it is very simple; a great and true defender has heart. My assistant has a wonderful line, when she critiques food. She will say it is “made with love” or that it isn’t. She is unwavering and clear about her critique because she says you can just tell the difference. And the truth is she is right. And the one thing that makes the difference in a great criminal defense attorney is heart. There are many ways to do the job satisfactorily but there is only one way to do this job striving for greatness, and that is while wearing your heart and soul on your sleeve.