Attorneys Addicted to Attention
Attorneys—some, anyway—live in heady times. I follow some blogs and nearly every story touches matters legal. Unfortunately, in too many instances I find myself embarrassed and ashamed of too many fellow attorneys.
Before I go forth, let me clarify what I mean by attention. I’m not focused on attorneys doing good deeds. Writing principled, illuminating articles. Representing their clients well. The attention which bothers me involves television interviews. Press releases. And, yes, sometimes even statements made during book tours.
I’ve written lately—and often—about client confidentiality. Fundamentally, confidentiality and attention—as I have defined it—mesh poorly. We’re supposed to do our jobs quietly and, when we speak, we should be trying to illuminate, and we ought to not be obfuscating, aggrandizing, or interfering.
So … evidence? Uh, yah! Here goes:
He Used to be Trump’s Attorney
Jay Goldberg. By all accounts he’s a great trial lawyer and from time to time, he represented Donald Trump. My problem with Mr. Goldberg? His statements on television in recent days, recounting warnings he shared with his former client—the POTUS—about Michael Cohen likely “flipping” on the POTUS. Ethical violation? I don’t know, for I don’t whether an attorney-client relationship exists presently, and I don’t know whether Mr. Goldberg and POTUS had an understanding about disclosures. Regardless, a few days ago an 85-year-old attorney who used to represent the POTUS pops up to tell us he spoke with the POTUS on April 13 and told him thus and so. In my book that’s bad conduct.
They Passed on Trump
Consider, as well, the attorneys who will not represent the POTUS. The article lists seven, as of a month ago. To his credit, one of those attorneys, Ted Olson, would not comment, and his firm simply confirmed the non-representation. The same goes for most of the others. Not so much, though, Victoria Toensing and Joseph DiGenova. They were in, and then they weren’t (because of a conflict of interest a 2L would have identified promptly.) It’s not clear what they did or didn’t say, but the situation reflects poorly on the profession. (Without regard for the representation mess, Ms. Toensing and Mr. DiGenova fit four-square within the Attorneys Addicted to Attention Brigade.)
Then there’s the POTUS’s new attorney, Rudolph Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani, who’s been a U.S. Attorney, Deputy AG, and NYC’s Mayor for 12 years, claimed last Friday that he can wrap up the Mueller investigation in a week or two. Right. Sure.
Did I mention book tours? Yes, and I was referencing James Comey, who’s been a U.S. Attorney, Deputy AG, and FBI Director. Mr. Comey wrote A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, published eight days ago. Mr. Comey offers many valuable insights. That said, he will likely be a witness regarding many issues. As an attorney steeped in law enforcement, he knows the risks associated with witnesses spouting off in public. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) said he should saved his stories for a memoir. (I think she assumes memoirs get written once, and only when we’re old.) I disagree, and I’m sure she acknowledges his right to tell his story. That said, the freewheeling interviews / infomercials for the book can’t be helpful in the criminal cases which will come.
I know we live in a hyped-up world. There was the OJ trial and its aftermath, where nary an attorney or judge looked good when it ended. I get, too, the fact that for some of these people I’m referring to “marketing the practice,” something akin—albeit on a grander stage—to my blogging.* Still, these people diminish my profession much more than they lift it up, whenever they open their mouths. Shut up, all of you. Please.
*I hope I offer more light than heat, most of the time … and I welcome comments on that topic.