From the Mailbag

 Posted on August 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

I received this email:

Your Google link says, "We Have Never Prosecuted." I immediately thought, they're pandering to the lunatic defendant–those persons who believe that all former prosecutors must secretly hope the defendant is locked away. If there are many defendants out there who think like that, then your link heading might be helpful. I'm guessing you haven't gotten a single client because of it.Don't you agree that the majority of criminal defendants understand that it's better to have someone who knows well the mind of the enemy, all the better to defeat them?I would respectfully suggest that unless you know that this tag line is effective because a new client told you it factored into their decision to choose you, then you should change it.I hope this help.

Thank you for your kind thoughts, but you are guessing wrong, and this not help much. Here's a (former) trade secret: my Google ads touting my lack of prosecutoriality get as many clicks as my other ads.

Lawyer advertising touting "former prosecutor" is a meme, and an authoritarian meme at that. Prosecutors leave the DA's office and advertise "former prosecutor" because others have done it. So the meme replicates. Clients see the "former prosecutor" ads and think that it must be a good thing since it's advertised, and so the meme replicates.

But we can easily disrupt the meme. If some clients think that former prosecutors are better, it is only because they don't see lawyers otherwise. If every lawyer who had never tried to take away someone's freedom advertised that fact, it would occur to the clients that there might be benefit in having a lawyer who had never prosecuted.

I don't have to represent everybody, and I would just as soon not represent anyone who subscribes to the ridiculous authoritarian idea that former prosecutors make better defenders. In truth, many non-lunatic defendants are already aware that prosecutorial experience is not necessarily a benefit to a criminal-defense lawyer, and may be a detriment. Defendants who don't have that knowledge are likely to hire me only after I show them the truth.

Those who know that there are a thousand more important factors than prosecutorial experience are a much simpler sell. Crucially, it is clients in that group who are likely to find me through my ads repudiating prosecutorial experience.

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