Amateur Life Coach, Feb 19

James J. Bell, ICLEF's Amateur Life Coach

 

Dear Bell:

I am a 51 year old man, with a speckled past.    I’m looking to start a new career. 

One of my friends is a lawyer and I asked him if he could throw a little private investigator work my way.   I offered to do the first job for free, but instead of hiring me, my lawyer friend pontificated on my former drug use, my unstable financial situation and my serial trouble with women.    I assured him that all of that is in the past, but he is such a moralizer!  

What can I do to convince him I’m worth a shot?

Sincerely,

Grievous in Greencastle

Dear Grievous:

Don’t take things so personally.  I don’t know this lawyer, but I am sure he respects you as a person and he may even be jealous of portions of your “speckled past.”  He has probably not called upon you for help simply because of his lack of a present need for an investigator.  After all, a “speckled past” can come in handy in places where you might be called upon to investigate including:

    1. Trailer parks;
    2. Men’s restrooms at major airports;
    3. Places where fun and fantasy meet
    4. Texas; and
    5. Bars with mechanical bulls.

In light of your “speckled past,” the real question is whether or not you can be supervised.  Rule 5.3 of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct mandates that your lawyer friend provide “reasonable assurance that” your conduct as an investigator “is compatible” with the “professional obligations of the lawyer.”  In other words, you will be operating under your friend’s law license and have to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Can you respect the client’s right to confidentiality under Rule 1.6?   Can you avoid violating Rule 4.2 and refrain from talking to represented people?  Are you going to obtain evidence lawfully and not in violation of Rule 4.4(b)? Or will your speckled past cause you to jump in and out windows to obtain evidence?

These are issues your friend needs to consider before hiring any non-lawyer assistant.  If you can respect your friend’s license and the Rules, then your friend should hire you.  If he doesn’t hire you, let him know how you feel. Unpacking that baggage can be a good thing.

Hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Bell
Amateur Life Coach

_________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Bell:

I just asked my two year old daughter what my favorite color was and she said “yellow.” My favorite color is blue.  Should I be hurt? 

Sincerely,

Hurt in Hobart

Dear Hurt:

Not only does your daughter not seem to know you, but she randomly assigned you the worst color in the spectrum as your favorite. Nobody likes yellow.  Yellow doesn’t mean stop, it doesn’t mean go.  It is just somewhere in the bland middle of everything. If there was a color that sat mush-mouthed in the middle of a room, sloppily eating paste on a carpet, that color would be yellow.

And no, I am not persuaded that some song by Coldplay suddenly made this color respectable.

So to answer your question, “yes,” you should be hurt.  Please go immediately and make amends with your daughter.  If you don’t start the rebuilding process now, your relationship with her may never recover.

Hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Bell
Amateur Life Coach

_________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Bell:

I just became a lawyer this morning.  My first advertisement is going to say: “Never lost a jury trial.”  This is ok, right?  After all, it’s true.  I have never tried a jury trial and therefore, have never lost one.  In fact, I don’t even have a client yet.

Sincerely,

Undefeated in Elwood

Dear Undefeated:

Nice try.

Yes.  It is true that you are undefeated.  But there is “1976 Indiana Hoosiers undefeated” and then there is your type of undefeated.  The way you have defined “undefeated” would allow the Kansas City Chiefs to announce that they were “undefeated.” Then, if pressed on the issue, they could just explain that they were talking about the 2025 NFL season.

The Rules of Professional Conduct demand truth in advertising, but the truth is not always enough to set you free.  Rule 7.1 states that “[a] lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer.”  Then the Rule states that “[a] communication is false or misleading if it . . . omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.”  You omitted from your advertisement that your jury experience is non-existent. This would make your advertisement misleading and in violation of the Rules.

But don’t worry.  Few people in any field are “undefeated” anyway.  Even Rocky lost to Apollo Creed and Mr. T.  Sylvester Stallone even wrote those whuppins into the script himself.  Those losses make the wins feel better.  (Or at least, that is what I tell myself as I cry myself to sleep at night.)

Hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Bell
Amateur Life Coach

_________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Bell:

After 17 years in Baltimore and two Super Bowl victories, Ravens fans are still complaining that Indianapolis stole Baltimore’s team. Didn’t the Ravens used to be the Browns?  Didn’t Baltimore steal Cleveland’s team? Doesn’t this make them hypocrites?

Sincerely,

Colts Fan in Columbus

Dear Colts Fan:

I am merely an Amateur Life Coach and not an expert in this area, but to answer your first two questions, I would have to say: yes and yes.  As to the third question, I would have to say: nobody is perfect, even the wonderful people of Baltimore (who managed to produce the Great Michael Phelps, the fictional Seinfeld character Elaine Benes and Howard Stern sidekick Robin Quivers.)

Hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Bell
Amateur Life Coach

_________________________________________________________________________________

James focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense, attorneys discipline defense and health care law. As a Marion County Public Defender, he represented clients in numerous jury and bench trials. James also represents clients in juvenile delinquency, appeals and post-conviction proceedings. James is a frequent ICLEF speaker on ethics, trial practice and criminal procedure. As of January 2013, he began serving as an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law where he teaches a course on professional responsibility. To date, no student has yet stood on their desk and shouted “Oh captain, my captain!” Follow James on Twitter @jamesjbell

Questions for the Amateur Life Coach?  Email them to scottking@iclef.org.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

Leave a Reply