Who is Your Client on Appeal?

This week we had to take our son to see his pediatrician. He, like many little guys his age, has a tendency to get ear infections. We love our doctor. And it would be easy for anyone who observed her to know why. She is fantastic in the nuts and bolts of medicine. Beyond that, she has a knack for getting my children, not the easiest patients in the world, to participate in exams and tell her what’s wrong. Add to that, she has a clear sense of who her “patients” are. She knows that diagnosing and treating our children is about half of the job. The rest involves answering our questions, calming us, and patiently listening and politely responding if I ever venture into amateur doctoring based upon something I saw in the news, read on the internet, or heard somewhere. In short, she is effective because she realizes that being a doctor to a Key child includes being a doctor to a crazy dad with a big mouth and asks a bunch of questions.

So, it is in criminal appellate practice. You client is a person locked up in some rural part of your State. Bur your client will also be a spouse, a mom, a dad, a brother, a pastor, and a best friend. Your job will be, at its heart, nuts and bolts law. But it will be so much more.

And, to do it right, you will manage those two most dreaded phrases in the client of family member vocabulary: “Mr. Key, I was doing some research on the internet …” and “Mr. Key, I found these twelve cases in the law library.” Rarely, are these phrases uttered with the intent to offend or overstep. Generally, they are uttered with a genuine desire to help or out of a hopeless desperation or an understandable to assert some control over her life where control has been taken away. When it gets frustrating, remember who your patient is and who your patients are. Some people can never be happy, but most of them will respect you and appreciate what you are doing.

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