Good trial lawyers are zealous advocates for their clients. I don’t believe there is a more important aspect of the attorney client relationship. This does not mean that your lawyer should blindly accept everything you tell him about your case. The converse is true. Your lawyer must critically analyze every aspect of your case. This includes your own credibility and that that of your adversary. Identifying weaknesses in your case, and the strengths of your adversary’s case, is an essential step in the effective preparation for trial. This process is necessary if you want your lawyer to have credibility before the jury. Avoiding these tough topics does not strengthen the attorney client relationship – it undermines it. For this reason, I tell my clients if I don’t believe something they tell me. Sometimes our ensuing dialogue changes my mind, and sometimes it results in my clients being more critical about their analysis of the facts. But our relationship is usually improved for having had the conversation.
A zealous advocate is not an attorney who presents his client as divine and incapable of error. That kind of advocacy comes off as hyper-partisan and it is not persuasive. A zealous advocate is the attorney who can adroitly handle the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence and persuasively convey to the jury that his client deserves to prevail.