This all sounds very nice, and it's what we tell people as criminal defense attorneys all the time to make them feel nice and tingly inside, but it's not quite true. If I read a file, and conduct an investigation, and determine that my client's constitutional rights and due process rights were not violated, and he's guilty of the crime that was charged, I will still try to exploit any weakness I see in the State's case to get the best possible result for my client, including an acquittal or dismissal if that's possible. I would never lie for a client, but I will put the State to its proofs, regardless of whether my client is guilty or not or whether his rights were violated or not. The way I see it, the other side has all of the power of the State and the government behind it, including all of the resources that go along with that. All my client has is me. If all of that power on the other side is not enough to secure them a conviction, well, that's their problem. I don't feel bad for them at all if they lose, no matter how much of a bad guy my client is. It's not on my conscience of my client goes free, it's on the prosecutor's and his investigators. They're the ones that didn't do their job right. Btw, lesson number 1: If a child accuses your client of sexual assault, never refer to that child as a "victim" or even an "alleged victim." They are always to be referred to as the "accuser." Interesting. But this is just another empty rationalization designed to make you feel warm and tingly inside. I think it is trite to say that just because the almighty State can't prove a case, the case deserves to be lost. This argument mistakes ability for merit. No investigation is perfect, and even the most degenerate criminals get lucky. That doesn't serve as any real basis, in my mind, on which to edify the defense lawyer's work. The only explication I can give to the work of defense lawyers is through a theme already touched on by most of you. That is, the ethical dilemmas we (and all lawyers) face are an inevitable consequence of the system itself. Period. In other words, I think the worth of serving as a competent and vigorous defense lawyer is a matter of deferred value. Serving a guilty client and getting them off the hook is not a noble pursuit regardless of how you rationalize it; what IS noble is serving as a professional that keeps the State in line. Petty crimes and over-zealous prosecutors aside, I can't imagine deriving any real pleasure from raising constitutional challenges and poking holes into the prosecutions' case in respect of a paying dirtbag. It's dishonest work, and no amount of "adversarial system"'ing and "State vs. individual"'ing can get me over this hurdle. What I COULD see myself deriving pleasure from, however, is the knowledge that other folks - the ones worthy of compassion and rehabilitation - will somehow benefit from my representation down the road; that I am a member of an insulted community that deserves almost equal parts of praise and blame, and is somehow all the more noble because of it. At the end of the day, how many people have the DNA to become defense lawyers anyway? It's still such a bizarre profession in my mind. So dirty, yet so full of dignity.