Andrew DeLuca’s Delusion

Here’s baby lawyer Andrew DeLuca’s pitch:

It is these peo­ple that have grown tired of your eso­teric legal posts, that we as attor­neys rep­re­sent. How do you represent someone effectively when you can not connect with them? The type of perspective that is only learned by life experience or lifetimes of experience and allows us to connect with our clients fears, their hopes and their outlook on life that has been shaped by the influences and opportunities, or lack thereof, that they had growing up in much different place than you or Leo. It is my humble opinion, in the practice of criminal law or law for that matter, that it is essential to understand your client. It is only through this understanding that we will be able to effectively connect with our audience in order to advocate on our clients behalf.

It is essential to understand your client; without understanding your client you cannot tell your client’s story. There is nothing in this that is new or controversial. Lawyers have been seeking to understand their clients better to better tell their stories for as long as there have been lawyers. You don’t start approaching controversial until you tell lawyers that they should seek to empathize with everyone.

But DeLuca states the glaringly obvious as “humble opinion,” and implies* that “understanding” differentiates him from, well, guys like me. On his website he tells potential clients, “Choose a progressive law firm,[sic] that takes a fresh, unique approach to your legal needs.”

I’m glad he’s not claiming to be “aggressive” or “experienced,” but it’s interesting that DeLuca seems* to think that “understand your client” is a “fresh, unique approach” that distinguishes him from us hidebound reactionaries. 

DeLuca’s got no idea how I relate to my clients (though if he’d bothered, he might have gleaned some information—I’ve been writing about empathy in the practice of law since he was a 1L), but there’s a deeper, more systemic problem, with his attitude. 

Allow me to illustrate.

This:

10mm Craftsman Combination Wrench

is a standard-pattern 10mm wrench, about five and a quarter inches long. (A fully-polished wrench is typically a little shorter than a rough wrench like the Craftsman Industrial pictured.) There is a reason for all of this. Nobody arbitrarily picked 5.125in ±0.125in as the standard length of a 10mm combination wrench.

Say I’m a new “progressive” motorcycle mechanic. I’ve never tightened an M6 fastener on a real motorcycle before (I worked on some mock motorcycles in mechanic school, and wowed my teachers), and I’ve certainly never contemplated the reason a 10mm standard-pattern wrench is as long as it is, but I know that I know better than the older guys. So instead of buying a standard-pattern wrench like they all have in their tool boxes I buy a long-pattern 10mm wrench—if five inches is good, seven must be better—and use it to tighten every M6 fastener I find on a customer’s motorcycle.

I somehow snap the heads off of a couple of bolts. Hmm. There must have been something wrong with those bolts. I drill out their remnants from the customer’s bike, and try again, with the same results—more bad hardware! And again. Finally I start to suspect that maybe it’s not the hardware. Maybe I am overtorqueing because the wrench is too long.

But because, again, I know better than those old guys, I’m not going to use a reactionary five-and-a-quarter-inch-long wrench. This is a new age, and a bright hardworking young guy can make his own rules. I go back to the pawn shop and buy a short-pattern wrench (after all, it fits in tighter spaces, which is good), which I use to tighten up the replacement bolts. Everything seems to go great. My customer picks up his bike, and six months later dies in a crash when his front master cylinder comes loose because I undertorqued the bolts holding it.

The moral of the story? Use a torque wrench. If you don’t have a torque wrench or years of experience, stick with the standard pattern. It has evolved to its current form for a reason. The 10mm standard-pattern combination wrench is about five and a quarter inches long so that an ordinary mechanic, not wearing gloves, can apply the proper amount of torque, but not more, with ease. Fully polished wrenches, with their gently curved edges, have to be a little shorter because they are more comfortable to apply more pressure to.

The standard pattern is the standard pattern because it makes it harder to screw things up.

DeLuca has delusions of a new way of doing things; that delusion is what he’s selling to potential clients. Maybe they’re sold on it (though they’re not all staying sold). But he has no idea what the standard pattern is, nor—more importantly—why. He wants to improvise, but he doesn’t yet have technique to burn, and he doesn’t know he needs it.

DeLuca doesn’t even realize that empathy in the practice of law is not a new idea. Because he doesn’t know that, he misses out on all of the work that those who came before him did in finding better ways to connect with clients.

 

* DeLuca has a musteline way of never saying anything that he can’t disclaim; it’s all very passive-aggressive.

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.