Tigran W. Eldred, Associate Professor of Law, New England Law | Boston
Almost a decade ago, shortly before I started law teaching, I worked as an appellate lawyer representing clients who had been convicted of serious crimes. In one case, I recall having a very uncomfortable conversation with the lawyer who, I was convinced (and a court later agreed), had made a number of significant mistakes when he represented my client at trial. What struck me about the conversation then, and what remains with me now, was my strong sense that the lawyer was rationalizing his very poor performance despite his ethical duty to be candid with me about his work on the case. Was the lawyer being deceitful in covering up his many mistakes, or did he truly believe that his conduct had been reasonable even though, to an observer, it was so apparent that his performance had been deficient?