Where Angels Fear to Tread

I’m often asked how I can be a defence lawyer. The question is sometimes put, “how can you represent people who do such terrible things”?

It’s easy to say, “well, they are innocent until proven guilty” but that’s usually dismissed, probably easy to do.

Usually I simply observe that one of the great things about our society is that anyone, in any circumstance can ask someone to stand up and speak for them, without fear that the person they ask will judge them, criticise them or turn on them. Put another way, anyone might need someone to speak for them, if they do, a lawyer is available for that occasion, whatever it is. 

Once a friend of many years finally asked the question, “how can you sleep at night representing people charged with such serious crimes?” I told her that, “I sleep so that I can be sure to be able to represent you, if one day you need help.” Not a month later, that request for help came and she was smart enough to acknowledge the reality – lawyers speak when others won’t. They will listen to your side of the story when others won’t. They will defend you when other won’t.

In Australia teachers, police, ambulance officers, fire men and women and nurses are the angels. Lawyers must be those who go where angels fear to tread.

Seems to me that involves at least a little bravery and heroism.

Aaron Kernaghan