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Blogs Amy Kruse Writer

Advocacy nowadays is a very popular and nevertheless very difficult occupation, either if one chooses it as a profession, or acts as an advocate in several cases just to try what it’s like. Who can be an advocate? Anyone can advocate for another person. Here is how the dictionary defines the term “advocate”:

ad-vo-cate – Verb, transitive. To speak, plead or argue in favor of. Synonym is “support”. The meanings given by the dictionary are the following:
1. One that argues for a cause; a supporter or defender; an advocate of civil rights.
2. One that pleads in another’s behalf; an intercessor; advocates for abused children and spouses.
3. A lawyer
(The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition)
These are the meanings that we usually mean when speaking about advocacy and advocates. Advocates perform several functions, the main of them is to plead and speak on behalf of someone, and the accompanying functions are to support and defend their client, and of course protect his rights.

Complaints and arguments happen here and there in our life, and the most popular way out is to turn to the court. For a lot of people a qualified advocate is the only hope to win the process, and this responsibility makes advocacy a very complicated thing, I would even say tough. In all spheres of human life the help of an advocate is valuable, and this concerns the area of health care as well. Health care professionals deal directly with human lives, and this means each in this sphere needs to consult a qualified advocate in most cases. There exist a lot of dual problems in the domain of health care: for example when the client’s wishes and the wishes of his/her relatives don’t coincide, when the operations are risky or done for the first time, when new methods are used etc. Each of these problems may be connected with a court case, and each of these cases may need a good advocate.
What should a good advocate do? First of all he should gather all the available information on, study different sources and see the problem from different views. An advocate is obliged to be a very intellectual person with good erudition, and most of all he should be smart and quick-thinking – and necessarily an excellent public speaker. An advocate is also good organizer, he can prepare everything as planned; he is able to develop strategies that are effective and not just a waste of time.
Successful advocates keep their written records because they know that if the statement wasn’t written down, it wasn’t said. Advocates are not afraid to ask question to clear the problem, and know how to ask “right” questions. Advocacy also means the art of diplomacy, the art of proposing solutions that are suitable for both sides. Advocacy is problem-solving, and it is a client-oriented problem-solving.
Being an advocate doesn’t necessarily imply having a special education, working skills and experience, etc. But if you decided to try to advocate for someone, the above-mentioned qualities are to be used. In my opinion, these qualities are the main to define the success of one’s case (and one’s advocate’s career as well).
Let’s regard a case (an invented case, I wouldn’t wish it to happen in real life). There’s a family: a daughter, about 45 years old, and her mother, about 70-75 years old. This is an age when health anyway is a problem for most people, and our case is not the exclusion. The mother is paralyzed, both sides, she can’t eat properly, can hardly breathe, talk and open her eyes. All known health care professionals say that there’s no way out and no cure to bring the woman back to normal life. Such life can be hardly called life… In addition to everything she started to feel hard aches in the back and stomach. It’s unbearable and the mother asked her daughter and her doctor to give her some medicine that would take her away at once. She also included the doctor in her testament, because he was the friend of their family and helped them for about 15 years. The doctor and the daughter agreed as they both pitied the old woman, and she went away peacefully.
And everything could go right if the woman had been able to write. But she can’t write and can’t move. The question is: how to prove that the doctor is not murdering his patient because of the testament, how to prove that this is her own will? One could say it was enough to call a notary and to fix her will. But it is mostly a long procedure, and the woman had no strength to wait.
After all the police decided to find out what happened, and the doctor was accused of murdering his client. Let’s imagine that the daughter of that woman decided to act as an advocate for the doctor. What should she do?
First of all she has to gather all the facts about her mother’s illness and show to the court that it would be cruel to force the woman live further. It would be useful to find out the history of the illness, the facts and symptoms about the illness, and cite examples how the doctor helped them for a long time. It would be also useful to show the doctor’s friendly and helpful attitude, to prove that he is a good specialist and not a murderer; here can be also cited examples of the doctor’s professionalism, other examples where he helped people. A good decision can be to bring as witnesses to the court other patients of this doctor; the neighbors of the family can also be the witnesses and may show that the woman was really ill.
It is also important to answer all the questions correctly, to be logical and not to be too emotional. The daughter can use planning to lead the process of the case the way that she needs: to plan the witnesses’ turn of answering, step by step to give proofs of the doctor’s innocence. The main thing is to remain logical despite of the situation.
There exists a bunch of problems around advocacy. First of all, as was mentioned before, an advocate has to possess a number of qualities to be successful in the case. Secondly, the advocate has to be always good-informed and keep in pace with time. I don’t mention excellent knowledge of laws: this is also an essential part of an advocate’s success. So the first problem about advocacy is that it is difficult to correspond to the demands of the sphere.
The second problem is that the advocate takes moral responsibility for his client. A lot of hopes and lives are connected with the advocate’s actions, and it’s rather difficult to take the burden of such responsibility. Plus all the relatives, friends and other people, connected with your client automatically become friends in the case of success and your friends in the case of failure. The people, connected with the other side, the prosecution, almost always become your enemies.
The third problem is that an advocate may take the case of someone who is really guilty. Taking the responsibility of protecting such a person can be very difficult. On one side, the advocate has to plead for his client anyway, but on the other side, it’s morally and psychologically hard to protect someone, who, for example, has committed a murder or a rape. An effective advocate will lead any process to the verdict of “not guilty”, but one can imagine what it’s look like – to see the eyes of the victim and understand that you have given freedom to a criminal.
We have spoken about moral problems of advocacy, but haven’t mentioned the physical ones. An advocate “lives” together with the case, his life and schedule are connected with the decisions of the court, not with his own, personal plans. For an advocate it’s much harder to plan his private life than for a clerk, for example. Plus he must always be informed and have a strategy of his following actions. This can be compared with the actions of the general, with one difference: a general is in such state only during war, and an advocate is in such state during all his career. For a person who decided to act as advocate for someone things are somewhat simpler, but there can be other difficulties: the rhythm of life, the people that one has to deal with, do differ from ordinary life (I mean not connected with court). Here one can meet criminals, threatens, false accuses and simply lies. This is a world where everyone is busy mostly with saving his skin, and where an advocate is like a life-belt.
Indeed, there are a lot of difficulties and hardships on the way of a person who decided to act as an advocate. But yet there are even more positive sides. Advocacy is the social institution aimed to protect us and our rights. Since it was invented, many people have been saved from unjust accuses, and many lives have been saved from crash. Advocates are doing socially and morally important thing: they are fighting for the justice, which in our modern society is of high value.
There are a lot of people (non-lawyers, I have to admit) who envy advocates because of good salary. It’s easy to say when you haven’t tried this; an advocate’s job is worth more than the money paid. It is worth lives saved from prison, for innocent people it is worth the years lived in freedom and the good things they had the possibility to do. I will dare to say that having the right for an advocate is one of the main human rights. Until we have the right to be protected, we can believe in justice in this world.