Lean on Me

Lean on Me

I have a friend we can call Kevin. Kevin and I are pretty similar. We are both criminal defense attorneys. We are both former prosecutors. We are both fathers. We are both recently divorced. I wouldn’t say he and I are great friends, but I’ve known him a long time. I handled cases with him when I was a prosecutor and he was a new defense attorney. We would talk and joke together. Kevin was, and is, a good guy. We knew about each other’s lives in a general sense.

I would see Kevin in court and around the courthouse. We would exchange pleasantries and chat briefly. I had lunch with Kevin about a month ago. He told me a lot of things, in confidence, about his life, his ugly and messy divorce, and his kids. To make a long story short, his wife left him and multiple kids and left Texas. He was struggling with all his responsibilities, emotionally and I suspect financially as well. That was clear.

Very recently, Kevin was arrested. The details don’t matter, but he was arrested inside the courthouse. His charges can, and likely will, have great impact on his standing with the State Bar. He has a very good lawyer defending him. He has, whether he is conscious of that now or not, a lot of support. Kevin has a network of friends inside and outside the courthouse who are here for him, whether he knows it or not.

One of the hardest aspects of defending those accused of crimes is emotional processing. We see and hear some awful things. Violence, sexual violence, drugs and the cumulative impact on our clients, their families, victims, and so many others in the criminal justice system. These things also affect us sometimes heavily. Often, our clients are accused of heinous things. We see and hear all the details. We need to remain emotionally detached so that we can make rational and logical decisions to help our clients, but, at least for me, caring makes me a better lawyer. I care what happens to my client, and his family, and his life. I am still trying to find the right balance, but feel like I’m able to care and make sound and balanced decisions. I have to care but that takes a toll on me, and all of us I suspect. In every case.

At the same time, life is never put on pause while we defend our clients. We have lives. We have relationship problems and divorces. Our kids get sick. Our friends and families have problems and often they look to us for help. Where do people like Kevin, or, me, or even you, look for help? Similarly, our practice is never put on hold when we have personal problems. Clients will understand to a degree, but their case is not any less important to them because you’re getting divorced or your mother is in the hospital. So what are we supposed to do?

I’m not so egotistical that I think me calling Kevin to check on him after our lunch would have kept him from getting arrested, but I still should have called. I knew he was struggling and I had been through so much of what he was facing. Even if I couldn’t offer him concrete help, I could have told him I supported him.

I don’t have all the answers. I know HCCLA puts on a great Seminar named after a lawyer who really struggled. (The Annual Donald Davis: Dealing with the Practive). It’s a great seminar. I also know I have a cell phone, as do we all. Call me (713-452-0255) anytime or call another friend. Lean on me, or somebody. You’re not facing the world alone. The weight of the world but seem like it’s all on your shoulders, but it’s not. Share some of your burden. Don’t put your future, your freedom, or your livelihood at risk.



About Vik Vij

Vik Vij is a criminal defense attorney in Houston practicing in Harris, Galveston, Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties. He's the father of two amazing girls and is a fan of all things Houston. Connect with Vik on Twitter at @Vikvijlaw