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The lawyer and his enemy

When Your client becomes your enemy

I just watched the movie called “Richard Jewell” and I suggest you watch it if you like a good drama about…I will let you find more out about the movie when you watched it.

This is an extraordinary true story of a sincere lawyer struggling to avoid his client’s conviction and having to struggle with his client’s naiveté causing him to continually throw himself into the District Attorney’s arms.

Too many good people behave in a self-destructive manner, ignoring what is clearly good advice from an experienced professional who is working hard to help them.

When the lawyer becomes his own enemy

When the lawyer gets too emotionally involved in a case, he becomes his own enemy. A lawyer must be some kind of psychologist, but his main goal is to find a legal solution for the case and not to treat the client and solve his or her psychological problems.

A lawyer must think clearly, act kindly when possible and harshly when necessary because his goal is not to become a politician or work in any other type of profession where you must be constantly perceived as the “nice guy” in order to get ahead.

A Deceptive Mind

Don’t fool yourself into believing in fairy tales. Life is about reality and not wishful thinking.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool” (Richard P. Feynman)

I want to understand, I want you to explain everything to me

This is one of the sentences lawyers often hear from their clients. What a pity because this is an impossible and unrealistic request. There is no way a lawyer can “explain” everything, every move, every decision to a client. The reason a client needs representation is exactly because he doesn’t have a full understanding of Israeli law, of case law that a lawyer may draw from to use in his case, the judge’s demeanor, etc., and therefore, he must trust and follow the advice and instructions of the professional lawyer who is representing him.

This is especially applicable to new immigrants (olim), people from other countries must let go of their knowledge of the justice system in their home country and understand that Israel has its own laws and system that may be quite different.

“Their request that, “We must only do what they understand, is an attempt to, ‘Dictate’ as mostly they ‘Resent’ our ‘Freedom’ and our ‘Courage’ to be ourselves.

How many lives have been ‘Ruined’ by this need to explain, which usually implies that the explanation be, ‘Understood’ i.e. Approved.
(Erich Fromm, The Art of Being)

Let your lawyer do what he knows best– legal representation.


You must have faith in yourself, in life and in your lawyer – the lawyer you chose to represent you and solve your problem, get you out of a bad situation, take care of your debts, represent you in your divorce, write you last will, or just send a letter in your name.

Your lawyer is the person your chose, therefore, you should trust in your judgment and give him credit.

“Faith in life, in oneself, in others must be built on the hard rock of realism; that is to say, on the capacity to see evil where it is, to see swindle, destructiveness, and selfishness not only when they are obvious but in their many disguises and rationalizations.

 Indeed, faith, love, and hope must go together with such a passion for seeing reality in all its nakedness that the outsider would be prone to call the attitude ‘cynicism.’ And cynical it is, when we mean by it the refusal to be taken in by the sweet and plausible lies that cover almost everything that is said and believed. But this kind of cynicism is not cynicism; it is uncompromisingly critical, a refusal to play the game in a system of deception.”

“Behavior – “If other people do not understand our behavior what can we do? We behave according to our personalities”.

(Erich Fromm, The Art of Being)

Bankruptcy and Divorce

There is common factor between bankruptcy and divorce – the lawyer representing you, and the emotions involved in both situations.

Very often, a divorce is more than a legal case. A divorce involves real people, real children, real difficulties and sometimes tragedies. Tragedies involving emotional and financial abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse even against children.

In a bankruptcy case, the structure of the entire family changes, the emotional burden, the humiliation and the long process, all these contribute to a series of incidents among family members, sometimes even causing a divorce.

As a lawyer I’ve handled these cases and have never succeeded in being indifferent to the people involved! I think it is just part of my DNA. What I don’t do is let my emotions carry me away from my goal of fighting for what is in the best interests of my clients, especially the children.

It is a difficult but very possible task, but when lawyers fail to separate themselves from the emotions, their clients are the ones paying the price.

A last word

Remember you cannot control the system or change it. You must work within the system and not against it.

The lawyer is like a captain in the ocean – let him navigate and you be a cooperative passenger, because realistically speaking, in the end all you need is to reach safe land, win the case or resolve the issues in the best way possible.




Tzvi Szajnbrum was born in Brazil in 1957 and made Aliya (immigrated) to Israel in 1977. He is a licensed Attorney & Notary and professional mediator.

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