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30 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 625 (2005-2006)
Beyond Lawyering: How Holistic Representation Makes for Good Policy, Better Lawyers, and More Satisfied Clients

handle is hein.journals/nyuls30 and id is 637 raw text is: BEYOND LAWYERING: HOW HOLISTIC
Lisa looked older than she was-her face and body aged too quickly by a
childhood marked by abandonment, sexual abuse, and betrayal. Her teenage
years spent as a prostitute; her adulthood ruled by an uncontrollable heroin
I met Lisa when I was a young public defender in New York City in the
mid-1980s. I liked her instantly; her sharp tongue, quick wit, and confrontational
style with any authority figure won me over. Lisa was charged with robbing her
john in a midtown hotel room by hitting him over the head with a champagne
bottle, tying his legs and feet behind his back, and leaving him naked, bleeding,
and helpless as she unloaded his wallet into her purse. It turned out that her
immobilized customer tried to get her services for free and refused to pay her;
Lisa was having none of that. Unfortunately, as she left the hotel room, she
walked directly into hotel security guards, who arrested her.
Lisa was charged with robbery and possession of a weapon. The thirteen
months during which I represented Lisa gave us ample time to share lunch, talk
about her case, and stay in regular contact as we prepared for her trial.
But it was not until two days before the trial that I began to really understand the
life this young woman was living. Concerned that she would show up for her
trial high on heroin or simply fail to show up on time, I questioned her about
where she would be staying and how I could contact her. At that moment it
became clear that I did not really know Lisa at all. She had no home,
her heroin habit was raging, and she had no idea how to present herself to the
jury who would be deciding her fate. So, I did what only a young
public defender would do-I brought her home to my fifteen-by-eighteen-foot
studio apartment in Greenwich Village, where I could keep a watchful eye over
her during the impending week-long trial.
I litigated the case like it was my only one-trying to block out the eighty
other clients I had waiting for my attention. And even though the jury took
several days to make its decision, in the end, they convicted Lisa of the robbery,
* Executive Director, The Bronx Defenders, Inc. [Eds.: The author originally wrote and delivered
the text of this article as a speech at the Second European Forum on Access to Justice.
It is reprinted here, as revised by the author and the editors of the N.Y.U. Review of
Law & Social Change.]

Imaged with Permission from N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change

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