When I was practicing criminal defense law, my clients were split into two categories; court appointed and paying. I drew a flat, monthly income to represent court appointed clients and would get paid case by case by paying clients. My pay for a single paying client would often exceed what I made for 100 court appointed clients in a month. Despite the fact that paying clients were more financially rewarding, I loved representing those that were appointed. The opportunity to stand with those that nobody would stand with and give a voice to the otherwise voiceless was rewarding beyond finances.
Sometimes, there could be a pretty distinct difference in the attitudes of the two different types of clients. Court appointed clients were often very appreciative for your advocacy and the respect they received as displayed through your zealous effort on their behalf. Paying clients were more expectant of a certain result than they were appreciative for zealous advocacy. In practically every case, court appointed or retained, the client had committed some kind of crime. The attitude regarding their consequences, however, was often different based on the amount they invested in their defense.
In criminal defense law, there are more losses than there are wins. When the defendant did things that violated laws and the facts bear that out, there are consequences. The defense attorney works to win where they can to protect the rights of the accused, preserve the integrity of the system and ensure freedom for everyone. Consequences can vary and the attorney works towards the best possible outcome.
Expectations, however, can influence the client’s satisfaction with a good outcome given the totality of the circumstances. Practically identical circumstances and outcomes can produce different attitudes depending on the expectations. Expectations fuel offense. When we think we deserve a certain outcome and expect others to comply with our agenda, we are primed for disagreements where they can’t or won’t perform as we wish.
We all form expectations and they are typically very self-centered. We can form expectations for God, for family, for friends, for co-workers, and for strangers. Many times those others don’t even know what the expectation is, but the offense we harbor and bitterness we operate from punishes them and robs us of relationship. Healthy relationship requires that we set aside some of our expectations and operate through the grace that comes when we put others ahead of ourselves.
The selflessness that is required to avoid expectations and offense comes in the foundation of our identity. We won’t let others be them without imposing us on them unless we are comfortable with us. We’ll accept our consequences and examine our lives with a healthy sense of ownership. That mature self-awareness prevents immature projection.