I know, I know. You're thinking "gangsta" and think people like Eminem or Ice-T or Dr. Dre or Tupac or other gangsta rappers who sold drugs, killed people, became pimps and other varied "gangsta" stuff. You're thinking "You'd want a guy like Eminem as an attorney?" If he were a criminal defense attorney & sober, yes you would.
The jailhouse lawyer, the guy (or woman) who's been incarcerated and has to learn about how to get himself out b/c (s)he can't afford his own attorney is probably the most bad ass & will put your Harvard Law grad to shame. That guy (or woman) knows about the real life implications of the criminal system, has seen the legal trickery played first hand AND fought a fight based on his/her personal interest. Your average sane attorney that I've encountered has some respect for the jailhouse lawyers since they had to learn the law without professors lecturing them through the Socratic Method. They had to self-teach; most of us can't even self study & pass the bar exam.
But let's go beyond criminal law. What skills do you need to be a good & powerful gangsta? You have to be ballsy, take risks, show respect for the leader/elder members/hierarchy in place, be somewhat blind to public opinion, know how to talk your way out of trouble and who you have to do favors for in order to keep yourself and your operations from being busted by the cops or getting shot up and such. You also don't start using your own stash or putting yourself in anything but a clear direction since you'd best be sharp at all times. Probably also helps you make sure you're not getting ripped off by a trusted associate or harmed while you're out of it; bad stuff always happens if you start taking the drugs you're selling or you get high and think it's a good idea to step out of line in whatever fashion.
Doesn't that sound an awful lot like the job of a litigation attorney, particularly a trial attorney? You have to show respect for the judge/court referee and court rules, not give a damn what anyone thinks of you as you present an argument for a client, finagle the law in the best way you can for that client and make the client happy so you don't get reported for ethics violations or sued or even murdered if your client doesn't like how you handled the case ("Cape Fear," anyone?).
As I see it, the only difference between a gangsta and an attorney is that the attorney knows the law & has a position of grudging respect with law enforcement. People think both have lots of money, I'd imagine there's a lot of stress in leading a criminal enterprise since you have to worry about people killing you or getting arrested. The stakes are a bit higher than they are for most attorneys (unless maybe you're Saul Goodman).
Most gangstas also didn't come from privilege or have silver spoons in their mouths at birth. They had to be smart and strategic to get where they were, did they not? They acted to survive. Someone who's got that sense of resourcefulness and pluck ought to be practicing law & advocating since they've been advocating for themselves and took a path lots of people wouldn't. Plus, they actually know what the struggle is like. If you didn't come from money & you were talking to someone who'd been like our well known gangsta rappers, you'd feel way more comfortable and like they understood your pain. It's a psychological fact that we are more comfortable with people who are more like us. The person who's not from money would be less likely to feel an attorney who also came from a poor background was going to patronize them vs. the attorney with a Gucci handbag and wearing some business suit worth as much as their yearly income. I think the former gangbanger or jailhouse lawyer is going to get a lot more information than the trust fund baby.
I was thinking "Now if you showed some of these really enterprising criminals prior to their life of crime that they could be applying their smarts & street savvy in a field where they'd have less direct threat of life and could still apply some of the gang lifestyle, how many might just become Saul Goodmans or very clever trial attorneys?" This is a special breed I'm talking about, the type who has business savvy & is merely there to make a buck vs. getting addicted to drugs, being a perma-lackey, or doing other stupid shit to detract from the business of dollars (whatever they do has a plan & a strategy behind it; it's not murder for murder's sake). These would be the people who look down on the lazy, short sighted types; I think ambitious people exist in all classes of society just like lazy fuckers exist in all classes of society. All races, all countries, I'm sure you will find the ambitious & business oriented types as well as the layabouts who wouldn't last a second running their own businesses.
Figuring out the difference is a skill but there's a difference & it is real. Sadly, gangs are probably more loyal to their members than many attorneys are to other attorneys. I was never in one so I can't say but I can tell you what I've seen and heard about the legal profession and what it's like to be a lawyer in it.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Gangstas & Lawyers: Is The Gulf Between Them REALLY That Wide?
Posted by Film Co. Lawyer at 8:01 PM
Labels: ambition, attorneys, Breaking Bad, gangstas, jailhouse lawyers, Saul Goodman
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