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Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you, no doubt, know that, yesterday, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison. His attorney, Ira Lee Sorkin, appeared, this morning, on the Today Show on NBC, in an interview with Matt Lauer. Sorkin is not a criminal; he is an accomplished attorney with an incredible resume of solid performance for his firm and his clients. He did not bilk thousands of people, charities, and other institutions out of billions of dollars. He, simply, performed the job he was retained to do: He provided a vigorous defense for someone who committed an egregious offense.

Despite the fact that Sorkin performed his thankless task with class and professionalism, he has been vilified in certain circles. Lauer reported, prior to the interview, that Sorkin has received numerous death threats and hate mail; one insensitive bastard suggested that Sorkin and his family ‘should have died in a Nazi concentration camp’. Lauer acknowledged that these past few months must have been painful for Sorkin and he then asked him: "What has this taught you about your profession?"

Here is the sum and substance of Sorkin’s response (it may not be word for word, because I copied it from the above recorded video presentation):

"It has taught me to have a deeper faith in my profession" (He then spoke about representing people who do "bad things"). "We don’t condone what they do, but we believe in the system of justice. The system of justice requires us to provide them vigorous representation pursuant to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That’s the role we play. We defend the system. We defend people who don’t do bad things by defending people who do do bad things…I would do it again; no qualms at all. Our system works; it has flaws, but it works".

Shakespeare once remarked, famously, "Let’s kill all the lawyers". Apparently, that is what the public, wronged by Madoff, not Sorkin, wish to do to the man who was assigned the constitutional mandated task of representing a criminal. He didn’t lobby or campaign for the job; he was hired to perform services and his client got professional representation, plead guilty without a trial, and has been harshly sentenced. For mere representation, a Jewish lawyer receives death threats and is told that his family should have been victims of the Nazis. His classy "deeper faith in my profession" response, quoted in essence, above, has made him one of my heroes.

All attorneys, whether we practice in the civil or criminal justice system, live by the standards espoused by Mr. Sorkin. We champion unpopular causes in the name of client respresentation. We help create safer products, safer highways, safer bridges, safer sidewalks, safer airplanes, safer railroads, in a word, safer standards. We hold insurance companies, large corporations, doctors, hospitals and nursing homes accountable to the public for their promises and their breaches of same. Lawsuits, or the threat of them, are the single, most effective safety tools in the world, today. Yet, merely by performing the tasks which we were retained to perform and which keep all of us a little safer, we attorneys are often called names; "greedy trial lawyers", "shysters", "crooks", "ambulance chasers", "sharks", "pitbulls" (although, in context, that might not be a bad thing) come to mind. We are accused of bringing "frivolous lawsuits" and committing "lawsuit abuse" (although this is a pro-insurance industry tactic rather than a true accusation).

Lawsuit Financial and I are proud of our record of accomplishment in the legal representation of clients (my former vocation) and in the strategic providing of legal finance which sole purpose is to provide the financial means for a plaintiff to fight on for increased lawsuit results (my current vocation). We are proud to provide lawsuit funding for plaintiffs, the clients of most InjuryBoard members.

For some strange reason, representing the plaintiff in a personal injury action, in today’s society, has, suddenly, made us the ‘bad guys’. I can’t explain it; I don’t know a single plaintiff who wouldn’t exchange the verdict or settlement money he/she received for a return to good health. However, even though big business creates the fiction of lawsuit abuse or the fictional need for tort reform, we perservere for our clients. Why? Because, like my new hero, Mr. Sorkin, says, we believe in our system of justice. We defend the system; we provide vigorous representation; it teaches us to have a deeper faith in our profession. We would do it again, no qualms at all. That’s why we became lawyers; that’s why we represent justice for all plaintiffs; and that’s why we will keep fighting the good fight for our clients, no matter what they call us.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Mike Bryant
    Mike Bryant

    Very good post. Thanks for providing this insight. I always think about John Adams representing the British soldiers from the Boston Massacre. It is what the country stands for.

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