The Last, the Least and the Lost

As a public defender, there are people I represent… and people I don’t usually get to represent.

These are some of the people I serve.

homeless-youth

I call them the Damsels in Distress.

youth_homeless

They get screwed (figuratively or literally) by their families. Their boyfriends steal their money and break their hearts. Their best friends betray them and steal their boyfriends. Children’s Aid wants to apprehend their kids. The police and prosecutors want to convict and sentence them.  And it sometimes seems to them that the only person willing to listen to them and help them… is me.

NRP

They’re not all angels. Believe me, they’re not. They are not actually thankful or appreciative. In the years since I’ve become a lawyer, I can count on two hands the times some of them said “thank you” to me.

But that’s not why I do it. I don’t do it for their appreciation. There is no prestige in what I do, that’s for sure. I certainly don’t do it for the money. Public defenders are the lowest paid of all lawyers. Despite what some arrogant, ignorant people may say, public defenders are not awash in the princely sums lavished upon us by the Legal Aid system.

homelesspic

I do it for the same reason that I can’t just sit in my deck chair sipping margaritas while watching an unsupervised toddler waddle precariously at the edge of a swimming pool. And should the tiny little terror fall in, I can’t sit there and say, “Well… I COULD help the little squirt. I just don’t want to.”

I do it because it is the right thing to do.

aa-tribalfang

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8 comments on “The Last, the Least and the Lost

  1. bunnynoah says:

    … and that’s why so many people, from all walks of life, love you so!

  2. dlc says:

    it is the right thing to do

  3. Lin says:

    Very well said my dear friend. Working in a homeless shelter is where many of these damsels come after their public defender has “freed” them from jail. Most of the time when they come to us – they are quite angry (along with a myriad of other problems and emotions). I always tell myself – “They are carrying much more baggage than just that knapsack on their back”. Appreciation isn’t required. Being there is important. These damsels belong to someone – they are someones sister, daughter, friend, aunt or mother. They matter! I truly believe that – even if sometimes they don’t.

  4. renxkyoko says:

    You’re a good person. ( salutes)

  5. renxkyoko says:

    You’re welcome. I grew up in a family of lawyers. Both grandpas were lawyers, uncles and aunts are lawyers on both sides of the family.

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