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One Mother’s Plea How a Defense Attorney Changed My Life
told her, “There’s one other way to approach this.” The state had offered her a plea, for involuntary manslaughter. The terms included a term of three years in prison, eligible for parole after a single year. I’ll never forget that day. She looked down at the legal pad on which the lawyer had laid out every possible option. She was shaking. This woman had never been in trouble a day in her life. With a wavering voice she told him that she would take the plea. She was going to prison. Though she did spend some time in prison, it ended up that she was released after a single year. For me, that lawyer’s actions that opened up an entire world of possibilities. I had seen firsthand the ability of an experienced lawyer to help people in desperate situations. That day, I decided to become a lawyer. It felt appropriate to include that story of a desperate mother in this month’s issue, with Mother’s Day on the 14th of May. Moms do so much for all of us in our lives — a great many of my clients are single mothers, doing all they can to provide for their kids. I hope you get the chance to take a moment this month to thank the moms in your own life.
going to find out their situation and formulate some reasonable goals. But first, I tell them the story of why I became a lawyer. Years ago, I had just graduated from college. I entered into the “real world,” equipped with little more than my English degree — I had always wanted to be either a lawyer or a writer, but even with those two potential paths to take, I felt rather lost when I first finished school. My dad managed to get me a job working for his lawyer’s firm, where I was mostly a gopher, moving books and files around the office. It wasn’t the most exciting work in the world, but it gave me something to do and paid the bills. One day, the lawyer I worked for asked me to sit in on a consult with a client. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The woman, tense and seated across from the lawyer, began to lay out her story. She had endured years of abuse from her husband, both physical and verbal. One day, the violence had reached such a fever pitch that, in a desperate attempt to protect herself, she had shot and killed her husband as he rushed to attack her. The DA was getting ready to charge her with murder. I stayed silent while the lawyer explained that he could potentially defend her on a “battered housewife” defense. The problem was that the case would essentially be an all-or-nothing proposition. If she won, she would walk, but if she lost, she was looking at 15 years to life for murder. “But,” he
I start almost every consultation with a new client the same way. When somebody steps into my office for the first time, they’re often intensely anxious. After all, they’re about to lay their problems out in front of me. They don’t know what options I’ll be able to provide, how I’ll feel about the situation, or how much it’s going to cost, so it’s important that I show them who I truly am and establish a human connection as soon as possible. So when they first enter my office, we sit down, and I explain to them what’s going to happen. We’re going to talk for a half an hour, during which I’m
– Ron Drescher
As she told the story, her hands shook feverishly, eyes fixed on the oak table below.
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