ATTORNEYS, WAS SHAKESPEARE RIGHT?
are good people. They go to law school to be able to help people and to make
the world a better place. Lawyers are one of the few professions that provide pro
bono or free services to the poor. These services are often provided by City and
State Bar Associations, made up of local lawyers.
do good deeds outside their law practice. They coach little league sports,
serve on community boards, teach Sunday school in their Churches. I often see
attorneys at Charity events and volunteering for causes like Habitat for Humanity, feeding the
homeless, homeless shelters and endless other deserving causes.
things are true, then why do attorneys in general often rank so low with the
Like you, because I am an attorney, I
am often subjected to attacks on the legal profession. I try to ignore them but
to no avail. I regret that the insurance industry propaganda has caused so many
people to be anti-trial lawyer.
Yes, some attorneys are bad and some
take advantage of their clients. Those situations make me angry and sad. My
sadness is for the victims and because of the condemnation of the whole legal
Lawyers are often a subject of public
speculation. I cannot defend all attorneys, but I am sure that the percentage
of incompetent, immoral, or dishonest attorneys is no greater than the same
percentage of bad people in other professions.
However, attorneys seem to stay in the
spotlight. Perhaps attorneys are examined closer because they are in a position
of such trust? Attorneys hold an elevated position of trust and have a
fiduciary duty to their clients, many of which are helpless and vulnerable.
I ponder why it is that when an
attorney goes astray it seems more newsworthy than when other professionals are
charged with misdeeds. Why do the media focus more on the negative stories
involving attorneys? I do not know the answer as to why misdeeds of some are
buried in the paper or never reported and an attorney's misconduct is always a
I find it curious that if a banker
embezzles money, he is a crook who happens to work in a bank. An attorney who
commits a crime is an "attorney" who steals. I am not criticizing
aggressive reporting, I am instead making an observation about the subjective
commentary that accompanies news stories, and in this case posts on a blog.
Why do attorneys in general have such a
negative reputation? On reflection, I think the blame must rest with us as
I hope this book helps you to find ways
to improve your community while at the same time enhancing your reputation and
the reputations of attorneys everywhere.
Follow your passion.
We as a group should do more to promote
the good that is done by attorneys in the media and to police our profession
more closely. We cannot rely on the media to publish positive news.
Maybe part of the explanation is the
fact that bad news sells and good news does not get reported as much. Maybe if
it was newsworthy, the good deeds of attorneys would get reported more often.
Each of us should have a charitable cause.
Perhaps if it were newsworthy, you
might read each day about the time and financial sacrifice that goes into the
good deeds performed by the National, State and local Associations. The
headlines might address the thousands of hours of:
free work donated by attorneys to the poor,
the scholarships given to local
students by local bar associations,
the Basket Brigade (Thanksgiving
dinners) sponsored by law firms,
the many attorneys who volunteer for
coaching in little league sports,
the local members who donate their time
to Habitat for Humanity,
City and County Leadership programs,
countless hours of legal coaching that
goes into the high school Mock Trial Program or
The fact that attorneys lead the country in attorney
financial contributions to Charities like the United Way.
This list could continue, however, I
think you get my point.
As in all professions, there are bad
attorneys. I expect that many people have had some unpleasant experiences with
attorneys. As an advocate for one person, you almost always have to disagree
with another person. This obviously is most prevalent in litigation and in
cases involving domestic and divorce situations.
The public should be aware that lawyers
are required to adhere to a professionalism oath and certain standards of
conduct. A violation of these standards can result in a public reprimand, suspension
of the lawyer's license to practice law and disbarment. The State Bars are entrusted
with the responsibility to investigate all complaints against lawyers and do so
In addition, State Bar Associations
also maintain a trust fund, funded through dues and donations from lawyers,
designed to assist clients of lawyers that have stolen funds.
What other group does that?
No other profession has as large, as
well-funded, and as aggressive a disciplinary process for their members.
I have been practicing law in Savannah Georgia
since 1984. My observation is that most attorneys are decent, hardworking,
ethical individuals concerned about their clients. But having high media
exposure makes an attorney an easy target for criticism.
I believe in my heart that most
attorneys are dedicated to their clients and strive for the highest standard of
I think that where we as a profession,
may sometimes fail, is in allowing the few bad apples to exist and permit them
to be the main focus in the media. I do not hesitate to criticize the actions
of an attorney I think is wrong. Likewise, I often stand up and speak out when improper
attacks are made on my profession.
Maybe one answer is for attorneys to
enhance the community service and charity work of attorneys?
Perhaps we as attorneys should each set
our professional and ethical standards higher. I do not know how to prevent
attorneys from being the butt of jokes. How can we as a profession gain the
respect and trust of the general public?
Perhaps this book brings one answer,
I do know that criticism of attorneys is
often powerful and I feel compelled to respond whenever given the opportunity. A perfect example of the verbal attacks
attorneys have endured throughout history is an often misused quote from
Shakespeare. Attorney critics frequently allege that Shakespeare said "First, kill all the lawyers...”
If you read Shakespeare's King Henry
VI, part 2 act 4, you will learn that a scoundrel, Dick the Butcher (a henchmen
to Cade, a political rebel), in a conspiracy to destroy the country's social
order and stability states "First we'll kill all the lawyers".
This quote is from a murderer and an
anarchist (one who believes in political disorder and violence). The plan was
that if the social underclass were to kill all educated people (anyone that
could read and write) they could cause a revolt.
Cade actually had a man killed simply
because he could read. Cade's real agenda was to eliminate all opposition to
his evil plan and to seize all power and rule as a dictator.
The point that Shakespeare seemed to
make, by this statement, is that in the absence of laws and lawyers to help
protect the rights of the individual citizens, dictators
flourish and the rights of the people
can be abridged. Education and the law are a dictator’s worst enemies.
Attorneys are neither angels nor
devils, but they are necessary, like a standing army. An army protects society
from enemies. Likewise, it is important to make sure that powerful or corrupt
companies and individuals meet their legal obligations to the average American.
It is usually attorneys that uncover misdeeds (even of other attorneys).
Many of our country's founding fathers,
individuals with great concern for the rights of people, were Lawyers, as were
some of our greatest presidents.
Perhaps the sheer importance of
attorneys to our society is a reason for their place in the media spotlight.
We only have to look at a country where
there are few or no attorneys such as China or Cuba to understand how fortunate
we are to have attorneys fighting for our freedoms and legal rights.
Even in Shakespeare's time, in 1450,
lawyers were the people's last defense against oppression and evil. In 1450 the
rebels were the evil.
Today it is attorneys who defend
citizens against oppression, and the evils and corruption of corporations and
Simply put, to be a nation of laws we
My translation of Shakespeare's quote
"If you want tyrants to rule,
first kill all the lawyers".
Attorney, and proud of it!
Labels: attorneys, Court, law, lawsuit, lawyer, lawyers, Spiva Law Group, Trial Lawyers