The Death of Bad Lawyer

He appeared in the blawgosphere suddenly, and made almost an immediate impact.  He wrote without fear because he was free, and those of us who read his words knew they were honest.  He was free because he was soon to go to jail.  He was a lawyer, but not for long.  He blew it.

There was nothing to stop him from telling his story, one that might serve to let other lawyers know that they could face the same fate.  He spelled it out without trying to color it to minimize his wrong. 

My professional conduct deviated from the standards of the ethical attorney in the maintenance of my IOLTA account;  and, in the reporting of income and payment of taxes.  I rationalized that I would be able to “catch-up and negotiate.”  This was delusional on my part.  I thought to myself that I was not stealing from my clients, I was just taking from my allocated attorney fees.  While technically true, the rules mean something—if in fact, I could not pay may bills, keep the phones turned on and pay the secretary without cheating then I really had no business holding myself out as being fit to practice law. 

As the secrets of my incapacity compounded I was sicker, and less able to practice.  After 15 years of sobriety I relapsed, seriously oblivious to the connections between my unethical and illegal conduct and sobriety.  I thought my relapse related to my father’s dying—I recognize now that my father’s dying and the crisis in my family was just an excuse to medicate my more profound disorganization and emotional disorders. I was sick.

In the very beginning, he was angry and cynical, still defensive about the system he was facing.  In time, denial was replaced with remorse.  He knew all along that he had no one to blame but himself, but the need for misery to have company is strong.  As he came to grips with reality, it didn’t change the stupidity, hypocrisy and deception around him, but didn’t justify his own failings. 

Then one day, it was time.  He said his good-byes and voluntarily surrendered. And the blog known as Bad Lawyer fell silent.

After serving his sentence, Bad Lawyer came back to tell about it, the inside story of life in the belly of the beast, and the outside story of the craziness of the law and its players from someone who knew and understood it, and had nothing to constrain him from telling it like it is.  It was good to have BL back, and since he had plenty of time on his hands after his release, he wrote up a storm.

I was fortunate to learn who Bad Lawyer is in real life, and he was kind enough to send me stories and commentary fairly regularly.  What he did wrong was neither particularly heinous or unusual, and it never played a role in my feelings about him.  He did his time and it was over.  He gave me the perspective of a man who had lived through the things that we, lawyers, only see from the safety of our side of the desk. 

I’ve known many lawyers who screwed up.  I will be the first to tell them they were wrong.  I will be the first to welcome them back. I believe in redemption.  I do not think that those of us who have never endured prosecution or serious challenge are so perfect that we can’t forgive and embrace the sinners.  We all know in our hearts that we could be better.  Only fools kid themselves.

After Bad Lawyers release, he remained one of my favorite blawgers.  Not only did he find interesting stories and issues to address, but he did so in a way that few in the blawgosphere do.  The social media thought leaders keep telling people to engage “authentically.”  No one was more authentic than Bad Lawyer. 

Having been around the blawgosphere for a while now, I’ve come to view it as largely destructive.  Too many lawyers spreading too much misinformation sprinkled with self-aggrandizing pap.  Some are too cynical.  Some aren’t cynical enough.  Some reveal that they’re not particularly bright, and most demonstrate a scary lack of grasp of the law.  There’s an awful lot of that, and the public’s ignorance of the law is furthered by lawyers’ ignorance of the law.

Very few have the guts to say things that are real for fear of offending someone, whether potential clients, their brethren or the powerful.  When they do, it’s the “approved” enemies, the ones who are universally despised on this side of the table.  Bad Lawyer was astute in his observations and owed no one allegiance.  He wasn’t fishing for clients or trying to make himself look more palatable.  There was no need for him to market himself, and no one’s feelings to be spared.  And yet he was mostly temperate in his commentary, unlike the lawyers with wild agendas molded from bizarre political beliefs.

Bad Lawyer announced the other day that he is done.  This time, it’s not because he was surrendering to serve his sentence, but because the time has come to bury Bad Lawyer. 

I liked “blawging” because it offered me a soapbox to try to be socially relevant despite my situation.  You should never doubt that the stories I posted about “bad” lawyers, judges, doctors, drivers, parents, idiots, and morons–these stories, were always about ME.  Likewise, I posted the occasional story about admirable persons in and out of the law, these were stories also about me, as well.  Or rather, I should say the stories were about–who I aspire to be by the grace of God. 

I have some other things, other projects, and a life with my family to live.  I’m now letting go of the “past” absolutely. 

It’s time for Bad Lawyer to die.  It’s time for the man behind Bad Lawyer to live again.

I hope that he will come back to the blawgosphere, though I don’t suspect he will do so for a while. If he does, it should be under a new name and without reference to his former life.  Maybe he will even write under his real name. If he does, his secret is safe and no mention will ever be made that he was once Bad Lawyer.

For the multitude of lawyers who have come to the blawgosphere to claim their fame and glory, the young ones who think their naive thoughts are worthy of recognition, the old lawyers who think their experienced thoughts can be spun into new clients, the amorphous lawyers who have bought into the idea that this is what lawyers should be doing even though they have nothing to say and offer muddled views of the law because they don’t care enough to write something thoughtful, or aren’t good enough to do so, learn from Bad Lawyer.

There aren’t many in the blawgosphere who provide real lessons in what it means to be a lawyer.  Bad Lawyer was one, and one of the best.  And now, Bad Lawyer is dead. Good-bye, Bad Lawyer.  Thank you.

9 comments on “The Death of Bad Lawyer

  1. SHG

    No, it’s good-bye.  It’s time for Bad Lawyer to die, much as he will be missed.  It’s time for the man behind Bad Lawyer to move on to the rest of his life and not wallow in what he did wrong.  As much as I would like to see what he comes up with every day, it’s not about what I want but what he needs to do.  He needs to move on.

  2. Martin Budden

    As Stefan Sagmeister says: “Everybody who’s honest is interesting”. Bad Lawyer was honest for his own sake, but his readers benefitted as well. I can’t remember what brought me to his blog, but his authentic posts about a world that I know little about is what kept me coming back. That, and a shared interest in cycling. Like you I will miss his posts, but I am glad his blog has served its cathartic purpose and that he now wants to move on.

  3. Mark Kindt

    Best wishes to the “Bad Lawyer”. Many of us truly know the good he has done for others and the fight for justice that he fought on behalf of the victimized.

  4. John Burgess

    I’ll certainly miss BL, though I do understand the need to move on.

    I will continue to hope that he (the lawyer who paid his price) is not going to disappear from the Internet entirely, though. Perhaps ‘Redeemed Lawyer’ can show up in his stead.

    His perspective and his honesty were both interesting and, I think, important to many readers. Whether it was giving hope or just showing that sometimes justice can bite hard while still being just, his electronic presence was well worth reading.

    Good luck to the former BL, wherever you are.

  5. Dodie Junkert

    Having been the subject of one of “Bad Lawyers” posts, I can only say that I am glad that he is no longer posting. First, he had the story wrong, factually, and slandered me further. I have no idea who he is, but I hope he gets some help for his “problems”.

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