When I started practicing law in 1970, my father-in-law, an enormously effective and successful litigator with a leading New England “white shoe” firm, gave me a short lecture on the duty that I would owe to future clients. Since he was the smartest and scariest man I had (and have) ever known, I listened very carefully.
First and foremost, he explained, a lawyer owes his client the unvarnished truth. I was admonished to always tell the client the strengths and weaknesses of the case and spell out the pros and cons of taking any particular course of action. The client may not like hearing bad news or a pessimistic opinion about the merits of the case but must, nevertheless, be fully informed so that he or she can make an intelligent and reasoned decision about the proposed course of action.
This rule, he stressed, must be followed even if it means losing the client.
Throughout my law practice, I tried as best I could to follow my father-in-law’s advice. And, sure enough, on many occasions over the past 50+ years, I lost clients because I wouldn’t tell them what they wanted to hear.
Now when I wrote my latest article about Kyle Rittenhouse (published yesterday by The American Spectator and set forth below), I tried to give a realistic assessment of the risks he would face should he become a plaintiff in a suit for defamation. But, as I hit the send button, I expected that many of the hardcore, meat-eating keyboard warriors among the AmSpec’s devoted readers would reject the article out of hand.
And I turned out to be right. Take, for example, this reader’s comment:
“Thank you, Mr. Parry, for outing yourself, and welcome to the club of George Will, Andrew Napolitano, Karl Rove, Frank Lunz and others who are proudly ignorant and continue to eliminate any doubt by expressing themselves.”
Wow. I ought to be insulted as the reader intended. But frankly being lumped in with George Will and Karl Rove makes me feel more like Wayne and Garth when they met Alice Cooper in this scene from Wayne’s World.
On the other hand, not all the reaction was negative. Consider this reader’s comment:
“Well said. I practiced law for over 30 years. Although I was never in George Parry’s league as a litigator, I saw enough and heard enough in those years to know, for certain, that every word Parry has written above is true. Stay away Kyle: the sharks are out to get you, and even the thinnest trickle of blood will send them into a frenzy. Don’t give it to them.”
Okay, so much for the reviews. Take a look at the article and decide for yourself whether my free advice to young Kyle is worth the fee charged.