Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Profile: The Master

Here's another Albany lawyer profile. Keep in mind these are generally semi-fictional.

The Master is one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the Albany area. All the judges, cops and criminal lawyers know his name, but not everyone recognizes him on sight. He flies just below the public radar. His name does get in the paper every once in a while, but he doesn't knock people over in order to get on camera.

He's been doing this for a while. As far back as two decades ago he was already well respected by those in the know. In some ways he's like the Michael Clayton character. He knows how to talk to cops, and they respect him. Maybe it's because they want a good relationship with him in case they get in trouble. Sometimes he can resolve the case before his client is even arrested. But he's more than that. He can walk into a courtroom and do as well as anyone else, and better than most. Also like Clayton, he probably has a dark side. Whatever it is he keeps it well hidden and under control.

Talking to the Master, you get the feeling he learned from great lawyers early in his career. He's something of a throwback. He seems unconcerned with the business side of being an attorney. In the old days you did good legal work and the business came. It still works for him.

He's gone beyond those teachings though. It's as if lawyering was a martial art, and he's developed his own forms. He really does have a certain karma or magnetism - maybe he's studied Zen or something. He even has a little bit of Yoda in his face. Along the way he's picked up just about every little trick there is, and he's created some new ones. Each technique on its own doesn't amount to much, but he's got thousands of them. He probably couldn't list them all himself - he just feels the situation and applies the right tactic at the right moment. Add them all together and it matters. For others a case might seem unwinnable. But for the Master, every step in the process is an opportunity to catch the police and prosecutors in a mistake. He turns the impossible cases into 50-50 shots.

In a world where so many lawyers help their clients plead guilty, it's nice to see another lawyer who fights. He probably should have some disciples.

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