Justice, Vengeance and The Cause

Clients come to lawyers seeking justice, seeking the resolution of problems and seeking guidance and help to take advantage of opportunities.  Sometimes clients want vengeance, or vindication or the advancement of a social or political cause at the expense of everything else.   A wise client will choose a lawyer who does not offer what the law cannot supply and a good lawyer will discourage a client from attempting to use the legal system to achieve impossible or improper goals.   Whether engaged in litigations or transactions, legal processes can be difficult enough without the added frustration of chasing unattainable goals.  The law is an expensive, unsatisfying and even dangerous venue for quixotic adventuring.   


Some clients want to use legal procedures to inflict suffering and pain on their adversaries.  These clients would be better off to avoid lawyers who are happy to bill them for misusing the legal system in attempts to harass others, even if the others seem to deserve it.   These clients should hire the lawyer who refuses to do this.  The client should hire a lawyer who is willing to temporarily displease by emphatically saying that vengeance is not on the menu.  The client is very well served by the lawyer who is willing to say, “this is a law office - the vengeance store is down the street”.  

The Cause

Sometimes it’s a cause that brings the client to the lawyer’s office.  The client confuses the case with the cause.  A client may be arrested or sued for protesting at the site of some unflavored activity.  It used to be sit-ins at a university chancellor’s office.  It might be any cause at all and any activity in support of the cause.    Organizations that support the client’s cause might encourage the client to use her criminal case as a platform to argue for the cause, to sacrifice herself - even to go to jail to make a point.  The client may be sued civilly by adversaries seeking money damages and injunctions.  Once again, the client would be far better off seeking out a lawyer who resists a strategy of self-immolation.  Better than jail or a money judgment against the client might be a news conference on the courthouse steps after the acquittal in a criminal case or after a verdict in favor of the client in a civil case.


It is absolutely correct for clients to seek justice from the legal system.   A client and a lawyer who have this goal are a good fit.  But justice does not just happen.  A client who expects justice to rise up from the earth and embrace her is mistaken.  There is much injustice in the world and the legal system is quite capable of inflicting unjust results.  Clients should be wary of lawyers who encourage the client to expect that justice will just flow to the client in the natural course of things with little effort, expense or commitment.  A thoughtful client and a sage lawyer know justice that is not guaranteed.  What is guaranteed is the right to fight for justice.  

The right client for the lawyer is the client who understands that she will have to fight for justice.  She will have to be committed to the fight.  She will have to use her financial resources and her time, her patience and her persistence.  The right lawyer for the client is the lawyer who will fight to achieve a just result for his client.  This lawyer actually knows how to fight and is willing to do so.  Justice may not be guaranteed but what is guaranteed is that the client who doesn’t fight for it – doesn’t engage the lawyer who will fight for justice - is not very likely to get justice.  

Clients and lawyers have the responsibility to be deliberate and wise in choosing each other.  Each should make the choice for the right reasons.

Content prepared by Edmond McGill. © Edmond McGill, 2016


This message and the information presented here do not create or evidence an attorney-client relationship nor are they intended to convey legal advice or counsel.  You should not act upon this information without seeking advice from a qualified lawyer licensed in your own state or country who actually represents you. In this regard, you may contact The McGill Law Office and then representation and advice may be given if, and only if, attorney Edmond McGill agrees to do so in a written contract signed by him.