Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shamrocks & Shenanigans

In ancient Rome, the Ides of March was a festival day dedicated to Mars the God of War. Generally observed as March 15th, it is also considered the day Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by members of the Roman Senate.  As a criminal defense attorney, I consider the Ides of March as the day following Saint Patrick's Day. For tis this day, my lads and bonnie lasses that I see an increase in criminal matters coming to our office.

If you practice criminal defense, you may have experienced this phenomenon as well. In our practice, we tend to see an annual brief dip in the volume of criminal matters that come to our office.  This usually happens around the beginning of the season of Lent. For my non-catholic readers, Lent is a forty-day period before Easter that serves as a period of repentance. During this period, many Catholics attempt to give up vices like alcohol and chocolate.  Hence the dip.  Of course, most do not make it through the 40 days. In fact, most veer off their path of repentance on or about St. Patty's Day. At this point, the chart points back up.  Each year like clockwork, I see groggy green clad clients coming from glen to glen seeking legal assistance. They come bearing arrest reports with charges ranging from driving under the influence to assault on a leprechaun. (Editors note: Yes, we actually had a client who was arrested for fighting with a little person dressed as a leprechaun).

Et tu Attorney Brutus?
Today, I met with a client who decided to celebrate St. Patty's Day a weekend early.  After leaving a place where everyone knew his name, he set sail with three sheets to the wind.  Not surprisingly, he was arrested for driving under the influence.   The next day, he river-danced his way into my firm with a stack of solicitation letters.  He was shopping for a lawyer.

Although most of the letters seemed to be prepared in accordance with ethics rules, I was surprised at the "sales pitch" some were using. One attorney offered that he could beat absolutely any price.  The prospective client had met with "Crazy Eddie " at a Dunkin Donuts. Apparently, the soliciting attorney did not have an office. He had a cell phone.  The client decided to turn him down because he did not feel comfortable talking about his arrest while people were getting their lattes.

Another law firm approached the forlorn client through a gentleman who described himself as their "Marketing Director."He had actually met the man at the bar and bought him a few drinks. (I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't the one who called the police after he left the bar).  According to the client,  the "director" promised fantastic results at a fantastically inflated fee and warned the client that he faced probable deportation if he didn't use his firm. "My attorney is in with the prosecutor and has connections at the DMV" he allegedly boasted.  I was third on the list.  The client asked me what I could do for him.  "Why should I hire you?  Sell it to me."

Sell it?  Unfortunately, I had nothing extra to give. No false promises. No threats of deportation. No 100% guarantees.  No special connections.  My golf game was horrible. There was no chance of me playing a round with the judge.  All I could do was explain the process to him and the probable outcome. We did a great job for our clients.  I stuck with our reasonable fee. The client said he would get back to me. He was not done shopping yet. Maybe I should have offered him a 2 for 1 special or a free toaster? 

And so go the ides of March. They are upon us.
Editor's Note: Truth be told, I noticed that my own law practice tends to follow the whims of the seasons. Not surprisingly, Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve and St. Patty's day tend to produce more clients seeking help for a DUI arrest. Christmas cheer is usually followed by small claims suits. Valentines Day is followed by an increase in divorces. July 4th and the summer holidays, I get an increase in requests for wills. For some reason, people getting on planes to warmer locales feel the need to make sure that their estates are in order. I wonder what Arbor Day will bring this year.


Jill said...

I've seen this car in CT. LOL

Anne Stuart said...

Your blog posts are always fun to read. I had fun again when I read this one. Awesome!