In the age of at-your-fingertips social media, some defense attorneys are struggling with a new challenge: controlling their own clients.

Just ask Martin Shkreli’s lawyer.

Practitioners said they had rarely encountered a client as unruly as Shkreli, the pharmaceutical executive now on trial for securities fraud. They had little to offer in the way of advice for lawyers in similar circumstances—other than to spell out the consequences, and if necessary, walk away.

Ballard Spahr white-collar defense partner Charles Stillman said attorneys can ask clients, “Do you want to do everything you can to be convicted, to do everything you can to aggravate the judge,” and upon conviction, “get the maximum sentence?”

“Lay it out in stark terms,” said Stillman.

For those clients who can’t avoid the press, such as politicians, there are other strategies.

Attorneys and clients can memorize a set of canned responses, said Stillman, recalling the actions he took when he represented New York City Mayor David Dinkins during an investigation.

“We tried to control the situation. At the same time, given the visibility of your client, you can’t cut off access,” Stillman said.

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