While we're busy creating a generation of "lawyers" obsessed with their online presence, I wonder if the lawyer's off-line presence is even a consideration anymore.
I'm not talking about the Starbucks lawyer with no clients whose only offline presence involves remaining quiet enough not to disturb the college students enjoying cafe lattes next to them, I'm talking about the lawyer that goes to court, or meets with clients, or actually carries around a file or two and wears an occasional suit.
And I'm not just talking about dress. I'm talking about "presence."
I'm talking about the way a lawyer conducts themselves in and out of court, around clients, around other lawyers. My personal belief is that a lawyer's presence is about how they conduct themselves from the time they walk out of their house, to the time they get home.
I was in court Monday before the judge took the bench and observed 4 prosecutors laughingly discuss the weekend. The discussion was loud enough for the defendants in the courtroom to hear. I wondered what they thought. I wondered if they were either relieved to know that the people who in a few minutes would ask the judge to sentence them, take them into custody, or otherwise advocate that their lives change in a significant way were happily discussing their social lives, or whether that made them feel like this courtroom was not a serious place to the government.
I then saw a tweet from a business professional criticizing lawyers tweeting from court. I explained that there is a lot of down time in court waiting for the judge to call cases, to which he responded that regardless, he would immediately fire his lawyer if he saw him tweeting from court.
Some clients don't like when opposing counsel appear friendly in court. Some lawyers can't wear a matching jacket and pants to save their life. Some lawyers put on a show at every court appearance, thinking the client will be like a proud parent and say "that's my lawyer!"
This all leads me to a question, really for non-lawyers, although lawyers are invited to comment.
What do you expect from your lawyer regarding his/her behavior, conduct, dress, and overall "presence?" If you've ever been to court with a lawyer, what bothered you about your lawyer's conduct, or the conduct of another lawyer? When you hire a lawyer, are you hiring the lawyer for their ability alone, or does it matter how clean their office is, or how professional they look, or how they carry themselves in court?
Do you care if your lawyer looks like this:
Actually, this lawyer did pretty well:
Once you get past the bullshit website and Vegas-style marketing brochure, what matters to you about your real-life lawyer?
Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.