A controversial ad featuring dramatised scenes of criminals thanking US lawyer Daniel Muessig before committing further crimes went viral over the weekend — and now has been viewed over 100,000 times since appearing on YouTube last week.
Rookie lawyer Daniel Muessig prides himself on being on the same wavelength as his criminal clients, with the 31 year-old drawing on his pre-legal career past as a moderately successful hip hop MC to differentiate himself from traditional criminal defence rivals. “I may have a law degree, but I think like a criminal,” explains Pittsburgh-based Muessig as he articulates this vision of himself in a video (see below) that has won him fame over the last few days.
Muessig, who used to rap under the name Dos Noun, has explained the philosophy behind the video in greater detail to Slate:
“You don’t want to be the typical white guy in the suit who’s going to impose his worldview on the client. That’s, honestly, the attitude of most lawyers working today…There’s a lot of condescension. If you come at it with a knowledge of the streets, what these people are facing, and how it affects their lives, you can really focus on how best to help them.”
But, while there has been appreciation on social media and in the blogosphere for Muessig’s approach, the light-hearted way in which the video presents serious crime — including armed robbery, aggravated assault and drug trafficking — has left some uncomfortable.
Allegheny County Bar Association spokesman Tom Loftus described the ad as “insulting to Pittsburgh lawyers and lawyers across the country, who take great pride in their profession,” adding:
“There could be kids watching it, or people who don’t even understand what tongue-in-cheek means, and what they’ll see is: if you commit a crime this attorney will get you off without any explanation.”
For now Muessig is standing by the ad, but he says that he will take it down if the police or a legal professional organisation ask him to.
Muessig can be viewed in action below rapping as his alter ego Dos Noun.
Keep up with Muessig on Twitter.