I’ve noticed a number of attorneys are increasingly marketing their purported access to judges. These attorneys are barely disguising the message that, “if you hire me you will win because I’m friends with the Judge.”
In this season of judicial elections, many attorneys are lining up behind the persons they think are best suited for the Bench, which is to say that we are writing checks to help our favorite judges’ campaign coffers. The message, then, that a given attorney should be hired because they are cozy with a judge in light of campaign contributions is a naked claim that justice can be bought with money or with friendship.
First, let me assure you that there are very few jurists who can be persuaded by anything other than a good argument. Now, we can debate what constitutes a good argument but my point is that the number of judges who rule by favoritism is so small that is relatively unlikely that you’ll run into them. Further, those who will take a bribe is, to my knowledge, zero.
So I’m all the more alarmed that some attorneys are touting their access since access equalling persuasion seldom exists. It is a false marketing ploy and suggests sinister and substantially untrue things about the Bench and Bar.
As I review The Manely Firm’s literature, I’m concerned that it could be read to suggest favorable access. I don’t mean it to. “Local Knowledge, Local Courts” certainly means that we know the Judge who will decide your case and we know their proclivities. But any sense that we can or would “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” the judge to have them rule in our favor is right out. And any suggestion that any attorney has the ability to get a judge to rule their way because they bowl with them or break bread with them or they attend church together is preposterous. Judges almost always are better than that.
Again, don’t read this as an absolute. There are some jurists who do horrible, wicked things. Many of those are in jail. Others will eventually be, or will at least sent off the Bench in disgrace. But they are the exception, not the rule. And any attorney who uses a sales pitch to convince you otherwise doesn’t deserve your continued attention.
So, for judges it is what you know far, far more than who you know. The practice of law is a quirky business. The history we build with judges doesn’t make them better friends, it creates a deeper respect. This respect is born from and built upon what we have known and what we have done year after year, decade after decade.