Wednesday, March 08, 2006

on being an attorney: the inexplicable

I found out today that one of my clients killed himself.

For all the crying I've done at work, I didn't cry today. It helped having a social worker break the news to me. I didn't cry, but it took me a few seconds to realize what she said. I've been thinking about it all day. I didn't have a lot of contact with this client, but I had engaged with several other advocates on his behalf and it was looking like we were going to get an ideal disposition.

It made me realize that sometimes I have very little contact with my clients, and frequently I have no idea what is going on with them between court dates, especially if they're not incarcerated. Even though I'm working hard on their case, and I might be making a lot of progress in a legal sense, I could actually go through a few court dates without knowing that something had happened to them.

This client would have been memorable to me regardless of the news I received today. I clearly remember the first appearance, and how plaintive and sympathetic he was, what a kind and gentle manner he had about him, and I was ENRAGED by how unreasonable the DAs were being - which is why the case wasn't resolved quickly even though it should have been.

Maybe I should have let him know how much progress we had made on the case. Maybe it would have been news that was good enough to get him through.

I've been here four months, and I've already had an interlocutory appeal, a potentially incompetent client, several clients who have made the front page of the newspaper, and now this. It feels to me like I could easily get enough experience in a year to fill a textbook.

3 comments:

Sanchovilla said...

Maybe I should have let him know how much progress we had made on the case. Maybe it would have been news that was good enough to get him through.

I'm really sorry to hear this but don't beat yourself up about it. You aren't even remotely responsible for his actions, as unfortunate as they were. Too many woulda, coulda, shoulda's...

Allison said...

*hugs* You are a wonderful person and I'm sure you are great at what you do. Don't beat yourself up.

Miss you!

Melissa said...

:( *hugs*