Defending with Diligence and Zeal

Attorneys practicing in DC and other states are obligated by local bar associations to adhere to certain rules of professional conduct. One of the most pressing requirements is to defend one’s client with “diligence and zeal.” We take this very seriously at PDS, where all our work is client-centered. By this I mean that the client makes all the important decisions. After all, we do work for them.


One place where we see this play out is within the context of plea deals. Even if a certain deal is clearly unfavorable to the client, PDS attorneys (and others) must inform him or her of the deal and its repercussions. And, while we’re always willing to take a case to trial, the client invariably has the final say.


At PDS, defending our clients zealously is our main objective, and we accomplish this in a variety of ways. First and foremost, we investigate, leaving no stone unturned. Sometimes this means virtually the entire organization listening to hours of jail calls, and other times it means canvassing a crime scene for witnesses late at night or early in the morning. Whatever it takes to gather the facts of case, we do it, from a deep appreciation that many times we are our client’s only voice before the prosecution’s charges.


Our attorneys also file motions and submit documents on our client’s behalf, often balancing the fine line between annoying the judge and acting zealously. Although as an Intern Investigator I work on the fact-finding side of cases, I’ve also been provided the opportunity through my assigned attorneys to learn about the legal side.


Working in PDS’s civil division has also afforded me a view of housing, employment and custody issues. Typically, the civil cases we handle are in some way related to a client’s criminal case. And, like with criminal cases, our goal is advocate for our client as zealously as possible.


In custody cases, this may mean providing a story to the judge why our client is the best fit to have legal and/or physical custody. With housing cases, this may mean preventing a client’s eviction by gathering funds from local churches, or arguing in court that the landlord has no due ground by which to evict. For employment cases, we might argue that our client was wrongfully fired, for example if he or she was fired due to criminal charges that were dismissed.


All of this is to say that we help our clients, many of whom are members of marginalized communities, to navigate complicated bureaucratic procedures and maintain their dignity in the face of some of the worst circumstances of their life. The best part is that as an Intern Investigator, I’m a full and important part of the team, doing work every day on behalf of the people who need it most.


One of our neighbors at PDS, the US Capitol building. 
Two of our other neighbors, the Navy Memorial and Archives Building, which contains the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.