I read with sadness recently about a local Montgomery County lawyer who has pleaded guilty to stealing from clients funds entrusted to his care and charging fees for work never delivered. My sadness is not for the lawyer who deserves the punishment meted out by the Court once sentenced.
My sadness about this case is obviously for the victims of this lawyer’s crimes, who put their faith and confidence in someone who was guided by greed instead of his ethical and moral obligations to perform the promised legal representations.
But, I am equally saddened by the impact of this lawyer’s actions, and others who have behaved similarly, upon the legal profession. So many of us have been guided by the highest of legal and ethical standards and by doing the “right thing” for our clients and the profession. It is the crimes perpetuated by the few that seem to define public perception of the many.
Why we wonder, doesn’t the public share our perception that the great majority of lawyers work all of their professional lives for the benefit of our clients, and to protect the honor of our profession?
I suppose it is because when one lawyer steals, it reinforces the image of the greedy lawyer whose goal is to make lots of money at the expense of the clients’ best interests. I recognize there are other reasons, but these type of headlines affect us all in a negative fashion. The public just sees the bad, and forgets the good that we do for our clients and for society. When you ask someone if they “like” lawyers they usually answer “no, but I like my lawyer.” I guess they forget there are good and bad in every walk of life. Let us try to prove that the vast majority of us have honorable intentions, and maybe they will come to believe as we do.