The $40 Lawyer

It’s Fall recruitment time and I’m sending out resumes to large law firms to get a coveted summer associate position next year. Probably in a nice firm with a big office and a high salary. Nice as that is, I sometimes think I’d rather be this guy:

Prosecutors keep pressuring him to make their lives easier. They want him to stipulate, for instance, that the chalky white powder found on his clients is cocaine. If he stipulates, they won’t have to bring in a state chemist to prove the obvious.

Early on, he decides not to cut prosecutors any breaks. Let them prove it’s not baking soda.

These first few weeks, he quickly learns to analyze statutes, negotiate pleas, pick apart witness statements. He also learns to turn the system’s glut of cases to his advantage.

To stymie the state, Charley deliberately clogs the court docket. When he gets a case he knows he can’t win – misdemeanor shoplifting, say – he sets it for trial and demands a speedy one. This forces the state to exhaust resources on petty crimes, reducing its ability to fight more serious ones. This increases the chances, Charley figures, the state will come through with generous plea offers.

In such ways, Charley delights in torturing the young prosecutors. At the same time, he frets constantly about what they think of him.

The entire three-part series follows the transformation of one man from a desperate loser into a confident lawyer. Inspiring stuff.

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