Time for some recycling.
One thing about having a professional career that's not a complete bust: the profession is a time vampire. Doctors, lawyers, and accountants all understand that what they do for a living sucks minutes out of their lives that they can never recover. You'd better be doing it well and you'd better enjoy it, and there'd better be some overriding reason to do it other than for the money. There will never be enough money to justify the brain damage and the simple, irretrievable loss of time.
In the throes of another hectic week last week, I had to listen to a client moan about "those damn lawyers" again. He also told me the old joke about a half-full bus of lawyers going over a cliff as being "wasted space." The first 250,000 lawyer jokes I heard, I could tolerate. Once I hit 250,001, for some strange reason, I began to tune them out.
Lawyer bashing: It's rampant. It's reflexive. It's popular to honk that lawyers use "loopholes" in the law, or "courtroom tricks," to get the guilty off the hook. They twist words to help heartless businesses screw the common man. They're tools of greedy, selfish interests rather than paragons of virtue who fight for the rights of the "common man."
In other words, they represent clients. Even clients like those who complain about lawyers, yet hire them to their dirty work.
I suppose if my ultimate sense of self-worth depended upon the opinion of strangers, I'd be in deep dog do. Fortunately, I have enough self-love for any two people (another reason that I need all the help from God that "She" can spare), so I consider the disparagement of entire groups of professionals based upon prejudices (rather than knowledge) to be as noteworthy as many people consider my blog posts. In other words, of not much value.
Still, being a member of a despised profession becomes tiresome.
It's not just lawyers that people hate, however, it's the "system" in which they work. What kind of "justice" can be dispensed if it goes to the party with the best advocate that money can buy? Look at O.J. Look at Robert Blake. Look at Casey Anthony. Look at that Neighborhood Watch guy. Look at the myriad of "truly guilty" people who get off because of "clever lawyering." It stinks!
I had a professor in law school who told his students that if we came to law school seeking knowledge of the means to absolute justice, we were in the wrong place. Instead, we should be seeking a PhD in Philosophy or Theology. For most of us, "justice" is the proper functioning of a legal system that human beings have erected to keep most of us engaging in "self-help." If we don't like the system, then we should persuade enough voters to change the system, and "have at it." He'd been teaching at the law school for 50 years, and he hadn't been presented with a viable alternative. Eventually, he died waiting.
I agree that abuses by the malpractice bar and the class action bar enrage many people. I recognize that it "seems" unfair when an F. Lee Bailey outfoxes an underpaid, less experienced prosecution team. I'm open to any rational discussion of ways to curb these abuses (such as hiring F. Lee Bailey to proclaim "I come not to defend The Juice, but to bury him!"). However, at some point the ignorance of many people about the purpose of the legal system we've adopted in this country and its superiority in preserving the freedoms we take for granted over other systems of "justice" that mankind has heretofore concocted, becomes so overwhelming that I can no longer restrain the urge to hurl curses worthy of Monty Python:
Many Our Fathers and Hail Marys must then be said for my penance.
You want to live in Japan or Botswana, where there are fewer lawyers? Well, go live there. If you have a better system in mind to dispense civil and criminal justice, then propose it to the legislators of your choice and "let's have at it." 1,000+ years of common law tradition be damned, let's hear YOUR brilliant idea for resolving civil and criminal disputes without those evil lawyers being involved.
[sound of crickets chirping]
Yeah, lawyers are jerks.
Life's a bitch.
Get over it.
And as long as I'm on a roll: To all the folks I've chatted with over the years who think it's simply fine to trample on or ignore the law because they answer to a "higher power," did any of you who claim to be "righteous" ever take to heart the "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" passage of the New Testament? If you did, did you even understand it? Oh, you did and now you want to argue with me about its meaning. How utterly lawyer-like.
As my response, I'll let a passage from a "lay text," the play and movie "A Man for All Seasons," speak for me. In it, Sir Thomas More responds to demands by his daughter Margaret, her fiance, Roper, and More's wife, Alice, that Moore arrest Richard Rich (who will later betray Moore and bear false witness against him, sealing his doom):
MARGARET Father, that man's bad.
MORE There is no law against that.
ROPER There is! God's law!
MORE Then God can arrest him.
ROPER Sophistication upon sophistication!
MORE No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal.
ROPER Then you set man's law above God's!
MORE No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact-I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God . . . (He says this last to himself)
ALICE (Exasperated, pointing after RICH) While you talk, he's gone!
MORE And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
ROPER So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
MORE Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on ROPER) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you-where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast-man's laws, not God's-and if you cut them down-and you're just the man to do it-d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
ROPER I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god.
MORE (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god . . . . (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle . . . I don't know where he is nor what he wants.
ROPER My god wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else!
MORE (Dryly) Are you sure that's God? He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God- And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly!
Of course, More was put to death when the law (both man's AND God's) was ignored by the powerful. That possibility worries me far more than "clever lawyering."