In the never ending saga of bar associations trying desperately to put on a program that will attract the scarce free cash of lawyers in a poor economic climate, combined with the trend of idle hands believing that there’s money to be made by defending the devil, the New York City Bar Association is offering a three hour CLE for a mere $205 on a subject near and dear:
YOU DON’T PRACTICE CRIMINAL LAW &
YOU GET THAT MIDNIGHT PHONE CALL…
NEW YORK CRIMINAL PRACTICE 101
Who is this program for?
If you haven’t thought about criminal law since you were required to take it in law school,what can you expect to encounter when a client calls you in the middle of the night about a criminal matter? What questions do you ask? How do you counsel your client? What should you do—or not do? This program is a must for any attorney unfamiliar with the practice of criminal law.Find out everything you need to do to preserve the rights of your client (whether dealing with a minor problem or a serious matter) from the first minute your telephone rings.
Not ready to hand over your credit card yet? Consider the expertise of the program chair:
Deputy Bureau Chief
Kings County District Attorney’s Office
Investigations Bureau/Public Assistance Crimes Unit
Who better to teach how to defend an accused than a prosecutor? Talk about an insider, and as we all know, it’s all about being an insider, with the little wink and nod as the backroom deal is cut.
The program covers everything from the initial phone call through disposition. Trial isn’t mentioned in the program, but collateral consequences are. And there’s even a Q&A period before your three hours are up. Imagine, a mere three hours of your life and you can then confidently represent individuals accused of crimes, who may spend many years, perhaps even their life, in prison should things not go well. Is this a great program or what?
There is a perception amongst civil lawyers that criminal law is sexy, and compared with what they do, it is. There’s a perception that criminals are worthless, so they have few qualms about trying to take every penny they can grab. Heck, it’s almost a duty to redistribute money from the bad guys to the good, and they are most assuredly the good guys. Remember, in the world of civil litigation, it’s only about money. No one’s life is on the line, and the only question is how big a pie will provide their third. With that in mind, and business slow, the notion of passing up the midnight phone call (perhaps with the knowledge that two-thirds of the pie remains in their escrow account) or handing it off so someone else can make a fee is just, well, ridiculous.
It’s one thing to disabuse civil litigators who think they can pretend to be criminal defense lawyers by feigning a swagger and a sneer, but it’s another altogether to have bar associations place their imprimatur on the idea. Who came up with the idea that a three hour
tour course makes someone competent to defend a human being accused of a crime? Brilliant and idiotic at the same time.
As a public service, I will teach that course in seven seconds. What to do if you don’t practice criminal law and you get that midnight phone call?
Immediately refer the case to a competent criminal defense lawyer, then go back to sleep.
That ought to be worth 1 CLE credit in ethics.
H/T Andrew Lavoott Bluestone at New York Attorney Malpractice Blog.