One of the most frustrating things about this profession is that some lawyers will take a case when they know nothing about the specific issues that they must deal with and they have no interest in learning them. I suppose the general public is trained to trust that a professional will not attempt to help them if they don’t know how. If you go to a podiatrist for heart surgery, he’ll tell you that you are in the wrong place! If you go to your local tax accountant for forensic accounting related to complex business litigation, they will send you to a firm that specializes in that field. Unfortunately, with some lawyers, they will take your child pornography case even though they know nothing about that area of law!
I titled this post “can your lawyer turn on a computer” because I know lawyers that will take these cases even though they can’t even turn on a computer. I realize that sounds crazy in this day and age but you have to understand that older lawyers spent the bulk of their career with books, pens and paper. As the old saying goes, its hard to teach and old dog new tricks. Clearly, not everyone born before 1980 is incapable of learning technology, its just that lawyers especially seem to get stuck in their outdated ways. I’m often amazed how many lawyers still keep a hand written calendar or a Rolodex.
This one firm I know in central jersey is widely regarded as a very capable firm. My mother happened to be talking to the senior partner about me and my computer experience. He remarked “I can’t even turn on a computer”. Wouldn’t you know it that the next day, I happened across a letter where they entered their appearance on a child pornography case! How he could possibly understand the complex technical issues in the case is beyond me. My understanding is that the defendant plead out. Years later, you would think that they would have learned a few things right? Well one case actually went to trial and another lawyer in the firm actually told the jury that there were a lot of technical things that he didn’t understand! Of course, the defendant was convicted. Why should the jury listen to someone that doesn’t know what they are talking about? The lawyer missed a lot of key points that he could have used to make a better presentation. Its not just this firm however, I have read transcripts in other cases where older lawyers missed a lot of key issues and as a result, the defendant was convicted.
So, when searching for a lawyer for a child pornography case, ask the tough questions: What is your comfort level with technology? Do you understand computer forensics? Have you written articles on this topic? Have you given presentations on this subject?
My answers to these questions are as follows: I have been building computers for over two decades; been using computers for almost three; have done coding for over 15 years; have taught a class session in law school on computer forensics, have lectured on computer forensics, have been published on child pornography defenses and related issues. Does that mean I am the best lawyer for your case? That is for you to decide but the important thing is that you have the information necessary to make the proper decision.