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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Lawyer

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In her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, law professor Amy Chua compares the strict "Chinese" parenting style with the more permissive parenting style popular in the West.  The book (or at least the out-of-context ideas in the book) shook the parenting word: Are Western parents focused so much on building their children's self esteem that they're raising self-indulgent, spoiled kids?  Are traditional Chinese parents raising children who will be smarter and more successful than their peers in the West?

Tiger Lawyers win more cases.

I am not sure which parenting style works better, but in the context of immigration law, it makes sense that the "Chinese" style will result in better outcomes for our clients. 

It might seem like a no brainer to treat our clients strictly-if we need a document in time to meet a deadline, the client better get us that document on time.  The problem is, immigration lawyers, and more particularly asylum lawyers, are generally big softies.  We may talk tough, but our sympathies are with the little guy.  For the most part, we are nice people trying to help out those in need.  We're not really the type to crack the whip.    

I can think of plenty of occasions where clients brought me documents on deadline day, after I finished preparing their cases.  I may have grumbled (a lot), but I dutifully pulled apart the documents, re-did the index of exhibits, and submitted a complete package with the new evidence.  Other times, I receive documents after the deadline.  I submit them late and make some excuse to the judge, often times taking the blame myself.  A Tiger Lawyer would not do these things.  He would tell the client that it was too late, and let the chips fall where they may-if the client loses her case, she has only herself to blame.

Of course, clients don't care much about deadlines or documents; they just want to win their cases.  If lawyers didn't submit the documents late or take the blame for our clients' failures, we would lose more cases.  Perhaps it would be better if our clients suffered the consequences of their shortcomings.  But I suspect a lawyer who follows that approach won't be in business for very long.   

To be successful, we have to be tough on our clients so that they gather the evidence and do what is needed to win their cases.  But in the end, we have to put our clients' interests first, and when they fail to do their part, we have to make up for it.  So maybe the best approach is to be a nice guy in a Tiger Lawyer's clothing.

Originally posted on the Asylumist:

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