Law students always think that legal ethics is going to be easy once they get out into practice. Represent your client, tell the truth, do the right thing. Sounds simple enough, right? In practice, they quickly realize that legal ethics and advocacy may or may not be simple, but they aren't easy.
As a former law firm associate, I've had occasion to advocate in court for positions I didn't believe in, based on my client's instructions or those from the supervising partner. It's tough to go and face judges, colleagues, and opposing counsel and argue something you don't believe. Building a reputation is difficult, and it takes time, and you don't want to jeopardize it by making your colleagues think you aren't smart enough to understand that your position is weak.
So there's always a hint of temptation to give some subtle indication of: "well, I don't really believe this is what the law says, but here's why I want you to find that this is what the law says." Who would want to jeopardize their relationships or reputation for a client whose case will be over soon? Who would put himself wholly on the line for his clients?
I know of at least of one lawyer who would: Marc Randazza.
While I don't know him personally, I've been following his work and his reputation enough years that I can say that Marc Randazza is one of the good ones, a lawyer who actually puts himself on the line on behalf of his clients without reservation. All lawyers should strive to meet the standard he sets.
Popehat lists a few of Randazza's greatest hits here. It strikes me that even the funny ones--like the Patent and Trademark brief about the history of dicks--are examples where Randazza puts himself on the line for the client. I defy you to read the whole brief and tell me that Randazza shows any hint of shame or apology for his clients. That's in addition to the excellent legal skill and savvy he demonstrates in the brief.
I hope that if I'm ever tested as a lawyer to the extent that he has been--I would be able to live up to the high standard that Marc Randazza sets.
Here are some major media stories by or about Marc Randazza.
The Time I Unleashed Marc Randazza On The ABA
Marc Randazza, Hero
Marc Randazza Would Support Me, Right?
Marc Randazza: The Mark of Excellence
Marc Randazza: 1st Amendment Lawyer Exemplar
Marc Randazza: Super Lawyer, Super Blogger?
Marc Randazza, First Amendment Lawyer, on the Rush Limbaugh Fiasco
Marc Randazza: A Sentinel For Free Speech
Marc Randazza — First Amendment Badass
Marc Randazza: Why I Went To Law School
Marc Randazza, The First Amendment's Finest Friend
Rick Santorum v. Marc Randazza: A Dichotomy of Zealotry
Praised Be Marc Randazza
Marc Randazza – lawyer, blogger, free speech advocate
Marc Randazza, Among Other Sources of Inspiration
Marc Randazza, and some thoughts about the First Amendment