Law School Discussion

Poll

Would you knowingly make a misleading (but factually correct) argument in the interest of your client?

Yeah, no problem.  Ours is an adversarial system.  Everybody is entitled to the best representation possible.
12 (57.1%)
Yeah, but I would feel bad about it.
1 (4.8%)
No, I would use another argument even if I knew it to be less effective.
5 (23.8%)
No, I would just act pissy and resentful and stuff.
2 (9.5%)
Ron Paul
1 (4.8%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Would you knowingly make a misleading argument in the interest of your client?

jason_perrlx

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just dot

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It depends on how you define "misleading argument."

I'm pretty ethical, though.  Probably not.

Isn't that what lawyers do? ;)

just dot

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In a lot of ways...yes.  Even if you know your client is guilty, it is your job to defend them to the best of your ability.  Isn't that misleading?  BUT...if you are representing an insurance company who is trying to get someone to settle a claim, making a misleading argument to that person just to get them to sign would be unethical. 

I haven't gone to law school yet (DUH) but those were just two quick ones I thought of.


I know conventional wisdom depicts lawyers as dishonest rats.  The real truth, however, is that it isn't just a matter of "ethics"--it is a matter of the law and a matter of professional responsibility.  A lawyer may NOT misrepresent the law or the facts to a judge.  It's simply forbidden.

So, as others have said, it depends on what you mean by "misleading."  Your duty of loyalty and zealousness to your client does not include cheating or lying.

jason_perrlx

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You can totally make a factually sound argument while leading your audience to a conclusion that is unsupported or even contrary to conclusions you, yourself, would naturally draw based on all the facts.  If you can't imagine such a thing, then law school may not be right for you.

Off the top of my head, you might present facts that are inconsistent with an overall pattern in your client's behavior and give them emphasis. Say your client is on trial for assault and that you know he has a violent temper.   You also know that he runs an animal shelter and has been praised for his kindness to kittens by the local humane society.  You might chose not to mention instances in which he violently subdued out of control animals...  even if those actions were completely appropriate for safety reasons and actually saved the animals lives. Instead, you might choose to show 250 color photos of the kittens he has saved from dumpsters and abandoned buildings and freeway overpasses and stuff.

Okay, it's kind of a silly example but you get the idea.  I can think of a million other examples most of which are way better than that one.  It's just that I have to pretend to work today.

I am Penny Lane

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The real question is "... and you knew you would not get caught"

jason_perrlx

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The real question is "... and you knew you would not get caught"

But if you're being factually correct there's nothing to catch you on.  It's all a matter of perspective.

jason_perrlx

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You can totally make a factually sound argument while leading your audience to a conclusion that is unsupported or even contrary to conclusions you, yourself, would naturally draw based on all the facts. 

More popularly known as "advocacy."

sho 'nuff.

just dot

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I don't care.  I still say it depends on how you define "misleading argument."  I'm not going to be an unethical, slime bag lawyer and if that means I will be a mediocre lawyer, then so be it.  I'm not selling out myself, my morals or personal ethics for any career.  I will do my job to the best of my ability, even if that means creative presentation of the facts (like Jason's example), but I will stop short of flat out lying.  I'm not doing it.