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Criminal defense is unconventional warfare

Oct 15, 2014 Criminal defense is unconventional warfare

At my best, I march to the beat of my own drummer, neither joining the crowd just to be accepted nor to earn more money, nor shunning the crowd merely to identify as an individual. After returning from my 1986 plum Japan/Hong Kong assignment during my year working for a Wall Street bank before law school, my supervisor included in my evaluation that I am very individualistic rather than a team player. I asked the basis for that comment, and my supervisor said it was because I struck out on my own most nights and weekends after work was done, not because of my actual work.

There you have it. This assignment uprooted me from my home for three weeks (and I excitedly went), did not pay me a dime extra for doing so, and had me working longer hours than at headquarters, but the corporate culture expected me to spend the free time remainder of just about every evening and weekend day with my colleagues, rather than joining them for breakfast and some dinners and for all our time in Hong Kong and Osaka (after joining the department crowd back in New York (and in upstate New York assignments) just about always for lunch and periodic Friday happy hours), and adding my own time with my two friends from college who lived in Tokyo, with a fascinating meeting with a former NHK executive, and with myself exploring Tokyo in this wonderful part of the world that I had studied in two college courses and had never visited before. Had I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, I would have joined my colleagues for all group gatherings; the way I approached it made for a much more enriching free-time experience. Four months later, I started law school.

Little did I know at the time that this very individuality of mine would always serve me well as a criminal defense lawyer, particularly since I did not even anticipate at that time becoming a criminal defense lawyer. I thrive on working closely with my clients, staff and colleagues of a similar feather, and on solace, as well, with criminal defense including plenty of alone time preparing for trial, thinking, writing, planning and analyzing, often with jazz masters playing in the background.

Criminal defense is unconventional warfare. When I walk into the courtroom, my client and I often are the only ones on our side. The stakes are too high and the needs of my client are too serious for me to approach criminal defense as conventional battle. I welcome the challenge.

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