Meet the lawyer defending Justin Bieber // Badass Lawyers

Seth Weinstein tells Precedent he treats celebrities just like any other client

By Daniel Fish

On Tuesday April 1st, 2014


This January, after police announced their intention to charge Justin Bieber for allegedly assaulting a limousine driver, criminal lawyer Seth Weinstein accompanied the pop star to the police station to surrender.

Weinstein makes this trip with clients all the time and, under normal circumstances, he attracts no attention. But this time, he had to escort his client through a crowd of close to 100 people, including paparazzi, just to get inside the station.

Weinstein is a partner at Greenspan, Humphrey, Lavine, and he’s representing Bieber in the ongoing assault case with Brian Greenspan acting as lead counsel.

Precedent spoke to Weinstein, about how he handles the media circus surrounding the case. Plus, he reveals the app that every criminal lawyer needs to have.

Let’s start by talking about when you had to escort Justin Bieber to the police station. How do you maintain composure in that kind of commotion?

Seth Weinstein: It’s overwhelming to be surrounded and, quite frankly, it’s uncomfortable. But you just have to stay focused on the task at hand. Which, in that case, was simply to get inside the building.

Is there anything enjoyable about being part of a case that is also a media event?

SW: I personally don’t do this job for the media attention. That’s not what I strive for. I happened to get involved in a case that attracted attention, but, to me, it’s not the coolest or best aspect of the job. I actually find it the hardest part of the job.

Are there any unique challenges that arise when interacting with a client who is at the pinnacle of fame?

SW: Regardless of whether they’re famous or the average Joe, they’re individuals looking to you for assistance. I don’t treat famous people any different than I would the average client.

The challenges are more extrinsic because someone in the public eye attracts a lot more attention.

How do you define success?

SW: My definition of success — and it may sound corny — is having the reputation of being a good lawyer, of being a diligent lawyer, of being an honest lawyer. And in criminal law, your reputation is everything. So the sign of success is having people say, ‘You’re going to be well-represented by that person.’ That’s success.

At the same time, when you have a good reputation, a high-profile person is probably more likely to come to you when he has a legal problem. So having a big-name client could be a symptom of success.

SW: Yes, there is that correlation, without a doubt. But I get as much satisfaction from being involved in a high profile case as I do from the average case that nobody hears about — when I know I’ve been able to make a difference in that person’s life and help that person address a problem.

Is there a piece of technology or an app that helps you in your job?

SW: I use an app-version of the Criminal Code. It’s not perfectly annotated, but there are times when I need to read a section and I can go on my iPad and scroll through it. That’s all I use, in terms of technology, on a day-to-day basis.