Fictional Attorney of the Month: Herr Huld

In Franz Kafka's The Trial, Josef K. is arrested. But he doesn't know why--he's not sure who's arresting him, where they're taking him, or what he did. Indeed, the reader never learns of the crime that is at the center of the story.

But things don't look up for Josef K., as the farce of a trial only grows worse when he is given his attorney, Herr Huld (seen left as played by Jason Robards in a BBC adaptation). The lawyer is the epitome of everything a lawyer should not be. Huld is long-winded, arrogant, and overconfident. He explains that the case is difficult and writing a brief will be a challenge--but he never completes the brief as he spends more time describing how hard it will be than working on it. And Huld constantly brags about his vast network of connections with influential members of the legal system, which, he believes, are truly the most important things the lawyer does.

Over time, the client slowly learns that the case is quite hopeless as the system is manifestly unjust. And it is made worse by a lawyer whose other clients have never achieved success. One of Huld's clients, Block, describes to Josef that his attorneys is principally responsible for his financial and professional ruin over the last several years. Huld is the epitome of a bad lawyer in all aspects of his work--not simply poor at his job, but unethical, a terrible counselor, and malicious.