Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More Frightening than Young Lawyers

I mentioned a week or so ago that I was amazed that 24-year-olds will soon be released into the world as lawyers. Today, I found something more frightening.

I work on the campus of a major teaching hospital and university. Today I attended a Grand Rounds lecture on psychiatric consultations with attorneys on criminal cases. It was quite interesting, and the case highlighted was a death penalty case where attorneys came to psychiatrists for consultation prior to and during the sentencing phase of trial. The defendant's family had suffered horrible tragedies at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and as a young child, so had he. There was a lot of evidence presented about abuse, low IQ, lack of proper parenting, poor language skills....etc. The psychiatrist was visibly impressed with what a wonderful job the attorneys had done at illustrating their client's history during trial and said that their level of detail was actually better than most medical reports. As a result, the client received life with no possibility of parole instead of the death penalty. What influenced the jury the most? The main items they pointed to were the horrors the family had suffered and the fact that they'd already had 5 children executed by the Khmer Rouge. This was a wonderful illustration of the powers of persuasion that we are learning about.

Another interesting note is that the speaker said he found attorneys who have sought him out for consultations are often more easy to work with and understand the nuances of cultural issues better than most medical personnel with whom he works. Interesting what that says about our respective fiels of medicine and law.

So, my actual point in all of this?
There were a lot of medical students at this presentation - students who already are treating patients. Some of them could not have been a day over 24. Now THAT is frightening.


Katie said...

We're not ALL so bad...

LawSchool Mama said...

No, just the ones I know :)

Kidding! I am merely saying I can't believe 24-year-olds are practicing law and medicine. Come on, do you want someone your age taking out your appendix? (I know, I know, we all have to start somewhere. Frankly, I am sure my mind was sharper when I was younger, or at least, processed things differently.Now, everything gets filtered through many more years of experience.)