Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An Awkward Conversation

When I do initial appearances for newly arrested folks, it's not uncommon for them to ask me to do them a favor. Make a phone call to a relative (or another lawyer), check to see if he can get some food, etc. But the other day I had someone make a request I wasn't quite prepared for. The conversation, after I'd explained what would be happening in court, went basically like this:

Client: Can you do one thing for me?

Me: I can try.

Client: Pray for me.

Me: I’ll do what I can.

Client: Just pray for me – you believe in God, right?

Me: Well, actually, no.

Client: What, you don’t believe in nothin’?

Me: Nothing supernatural, no.
After that there was an awkward pause before I redirected the conversation towards his next court date and finished up.

My initial feeling was that I screwed up - they guy was looking for some comfort and I ruthlessly shut him off. But the more I thought about it, the better I felt. My job is not to bring comfort to my clients. It's to be honest with them in my representation and make sure they know the reality of their situation. In fact, sometimes I have to cause quite a bit of discomfort to make sure they know what's in store for them.

So in the end, I felt OK with things, but it's still a unique situation in my legal career.


Gideon said...

For some reason your post reminded me of this:

She sniveled and implored me to pray for the animal. I wanted
to say to her: Madam, I have myself to pray for, the coloured
queen, the Puerto Rican family, the person in the front room
whom I've never seen, the woman who cries deliberately behind
her closed door, and the rest of the people in all rooming-houses,
everywhere; besides, Madam, I don't understand how to pray.
But ... to simplify things . . . I told her I would pray.

jedijawa said...

I'm gonna have to steal this post. I've had some similar conversations myself. Awkward indeed.