There is often community discussion about the so-called criminal defence lawyers as to how we can defend people charged with certain criminal offences. That observation seems to be made against a background of the author making a pre-judgement as to the behaviour and the character of the accused. It ignores or undervalues the fundamental principles of the presumption of innocence and that everyone should be entitled to a fair trial and receive justice according to law. In my view those qualities are cornerstones of a just and humane society.
What receives considerably less public discussion is the aspect of protecting or pursuing the rights of people in other legal domains. There have been many times when I have assiduously used my legal talents to achieve the best outcome for my client in circumstances where others may not have been so successful. In that regard I pursue the instructions of my client and relegate any personal views I have, with the exception that I must always honour my primary duty to the Court.
When the dust has settled on some of those results and circumstances permit some reflection to occur, it can be the case that the outcome achieved is not one I would have personally preferred, were I afforded the luxury of administering justice to the case on my own terms. There are times when I may have preferred to assume a different role within the case and perhaps I could have achieved a different outcome for it.
Another contributing factor is the extent to which the client shows gratitude and appreciation for what has been done and what has been achieved. There are clients whose lack of gratitude can add to the discomfort felt when reflecting on the overall outcome. A variation on that theme is the client who accepts the outcome, but shows no real insight into what has been achieved for them and the benefit to their life as a result of what has been done for them. Particularly where it is clear that they would not have achieved such an outcome themselves or without that specific input.
The congregation of those reflections and observations often informs and shapes one’s attitude to the endeavour. The right to a fair trial and the entitlement for everyone to receive justice according to law should continue. However one’s appreciation of the justice of individual cases can vary as a result of those reflections and experiences.
Whilst I can be satisfied that I did my job to the best of my ability and that justice was achieved according to law, there are definitely times when my ultimate feeling is that the individual concerned did not really deserve the result my skills were able to deliver.