As I have been practicing law privately, I have repeatedly had questions presented to me, and requests made from me that have caught me off guard. I have been asked to commit blackmail. I have been asked how to hide money. I have been asked how to hide property. And then there are the requests that at least aren’t criminal in nature, but are still at the very least, unethical, in order to “win.” It usually starts with a phrase like, “can’t I just…?” and ends with me saying, "No."
It has made me think. Why do so many people think I can help them with these requests? As an attorney, I can advise people how to do things in a legal manner, which I am most happy to do. So why do people think as a lawyer I am there to help advise how to do things the “wrong” way and get away with it? There are probably many answers to this, and I don’t like to just point blame here, but I am fairly sure of at least one reason behind this, which is how lawyers are typically portrayed to the public.
Several months ago, a family member from back East commented on how she liked the pictures of my office, and how it looked like it was “right out of Breaking Bad.” Having heard of the television series, Breaking Bad, but not even having cable as most current television does not hold my interest (just the thought of reality TV makes me a bit nauseous), I had to google the show to find out what the similarity was. After looking, I decided her reference was to my office looking “western,” and similar to some of the buildings in the show, which is based in New Mexico.
After this bit of research, my significant other and I decided to give the series a try via Netflix. And, joining millions of other Americans, we became hooked. Of the various characters – most of which I hated more often than I liked – one repeatedly made me think. Saul Goodman. A late night commercial shows a lawyer with greasy, slicked hair and a flashy, cheap suit speaking to the camera. He tells his future clients that when they are facing criminal charges he will save them, and how they “Better Call Saul!” Just the name “Saul Goodman” oozes irony. He is a fantastic character for the show.
Truthfully, and sadly, Saul is the epitome of what most Americans believe lawyers are. He is sleazy. He is out for money and little else. The list of what he will do for money is unending, short of him “doing the deed” himself. When his clients need help laundering money, they call Saul. When his clients need help finding a business “front” for a major methamphetamine operation, they call Saul. When his clients need to hide evidence, they call Saul. When his clients need a hitman, they call Saul. And you know what? Saul delivers. Every single time.
The concept seems so enticing, doesn’t it? All you have to do is call a lawyer and they can solve all your problems, no matter how bad they are.
But here’s the problem with a fictional TV show that some of the general public doesn’t put together, at least until the final episodes, when Saul is having to “disappear” from the feds himself. Saul is a criminal.
As an attorney, I am an officer of the court, and a member of the Wyoming Bar. The Wyoming Bar requires that all members follow an ethical code. Part of this code requires that I not take part in criminal or other questionable activity for clients or anyone else.
I am sure there are some lawyers out there that would do things similar to Saul for money. Like any other profession, there are going to be criminals amidst those following the law.
I am not one of them. I will not become one for you. Life behind bars isn’t a life I have any interest in pursuing for any amount of money. So please don’t ask me to help you with certain things. If you want to know how to do things the legal way, please call me, I am happy to help if I can.
If you better call Saul, don’t call me.