I have a confession to make. Sometimes it’s tough to be a trial lawyer when the media, Big Business and many politicians, constantly blame lawyers for all the ills of society. It’s tough to always be the scapegoat and the butt of lawyer “jokes”. It’s tough to work long hours to help your clients only to have many people believe that you spend all your time on the golf course (for the record, I do not even golf!). It’s tough to know that you spent seven years in college and law school working hard to get good grades and hear people say that the law degree you earned is nothing more than a “license to steal”. That’s the bad side.
The good side are those proud moments when your hard work helped your client get back on their feet. Those moments when an insurance company is forced to pay a claim that they had been wrongfully denying for years. Those moments when a client gives you a bear hug thanking you for “all you have done for me”. Those are the good moments.
What made me reflect on all of this? A recent headline in the Elmira Star-Gazette: “Musharraf targets lawyers instead of militants”. The article described how Musharraf, President of Pakistan, suspended that nation’s Constitution and proceeded to arrest the nation’s lawyers and judges who were peacefully protesting his illegal action. So instead of rounding up the militants, the bad guys who Musharraf said were the reason he needed to suspend the Constitution, he rounds up the lawyers and judges who support the law of the nation. Go figure!
But the part that makes me proud to be a lawyer, is that these Pakistani lawyers, half a world away, are standing up to a dictator, risking their own lives, to say “No, you can’t take the law into your own hands. EVERYONE must obey the rule of law.” It is the rule of law that makes us a modern society and it is the rule of law that protects us from tyranical leaders.
I am proud to be a lawyer in a profession that recognizes the importance that laws play in protecting the rights of ALL of society.
Thanks for reading.