On April 13, 2016, Derek Andrews spoke to an small group of students during a Syracuse University College of Law clinic seminar class at the law school. The discussion focused on the intersection of client counseling and criminal law, and ended with an anecdote about how not to work with clients.
Derek was invited to speak by Visiting Assistant Professor Gary Pieples, and the director of the Securities Arbitration and Consumer Law Clinic. A part of the law school’s experiential curriculum, students in the Securities Arbitration and Consumer Law Clinic attend a weekly seminar class and are assigned real clients with real issues in the areas of finance and consumer protection. Derek, who participated in this clinic while in law school, was thrilled to be given the chance to speak to students about his experiences in client counseling—an important process in any lawyer’s practice.
While criminal law is not the focus of the Securities Arbitration and Consumer Law Clinic, what we do have in common is the need to be able to learn about our clients’ problems and advise them on a plan of action moving forward. Derek spent a portion of his presentation answering questions about how attorneys should be adept at speaking with clients so as to understand their goals for representation. From there, he explained that the process moves into explaining to clients how to address their goals and how an attorney might go about accomplishing them. He then delved into how client counseling relates to criminal law with respect to negotiations with prosecutors and advising clients on accepting or rejecting plea bargains. The client may be the decision-maker in the attorney-client relationship, but the client is paying for our expert knowledge and recommendations; we have to be able to provide them with options and help them decide which route is the best.
Given that lawyers are always “practicing” law and learning how to get better, Derek ended the presentation by offering an anecdote about how not to work with clients. That story of a less-than-ideal client experience helped shape the way Derek continues to practice law to this day.