April 09, 2018

“Defense Lawyer Confidential” promotes itself as, and promises an introduction to, the real world of criminal defense representation with “bridge into practice” insights.  The author suggests it as law school appropriate and as a “must read for any student who is interested in criminal defense work.”  The sad but true review is that it satisfies none of the above criteria.

The first reason may come from the author’s inexperience.  Alexander Benikov has run his practice for eight (8) years, an insufficient amount of time to truly appreciate, let alone lecture others on, the ‘world’ of criminal defense.  A review of both the content of the book and his lawfirm website shows a concentration on less serious offenses, such as drunk driving, shoplifting, graffiti and “misuse of telephone.” (last visited April 9, 2018).  His proclaimed role as a law professor omits where he is faculty; a web search indicates that he teaches for an online law school that appears to lack ABA accreditation. (last visited April 9, 2018).  He is also listed as an adjunct at Arizona Summit Law School, a for-profit institution which has had adverse publicity because of ABA compliance and low bar pass rate concerns. (last visited April 9, 2018).

But most telling is the book’s content.  The ‘insights’ are pedestrian; the book fails to confront the difficult ethical dilemmas pervasive in criminal defense work; and the writing is on a high school level at best, as when, for example, he describes “angry clients” and explains how a colleague dealt with such an individual.  “My friend [a former welder] was not scared…and did not back down.”

So, why spend time reviewing such a book?  Because it is being marketed as a valuable tool for law school courses and students interested in a career in criminal law.  It has no place on a law school library bookshelf or as required or even recommended reading.  The criminal defense world and law students deserve better.