Champions of Justice
by Sheryl McClellan LC Class of '11
Soaring With Angels or Walking With Devils
It seems we have a lawyer problem in the United States.
Although at the conclusion of this article I will suggest some of the wonderful things lawyers could do with their degrees to both earn good (as opposed to regal) livings, and, at the same time, make simply living better for others, the first part of this article will be devoted to outlining what others have termed America's "lawyer problem."
I am not going to name names or divulge the sources of the numbers quoted here. It is a very basic exercise to find those names and numbers with simple Google searches, for those really interested in the subject.
And, it is my hope that, after reading this article, the reader will be sufficiently intrigued to look into the problem himself.
So, with that caveat, let's turn to the first unnamed individual, the Japanese Minister of Justice who has warned his fellow countrymen as follows, "I do not wish to see this Nation become another United States, with "freedom" simply a word to use in speeches, while a million two hundred thousand attorneys at every level of our society does his or her best every day to amass personal fortunes at the expense of civility."
Said differently, evidently this good minister doesn't wish to live in a Japan in which, like his American brothers, lawyers by the hundreds of thousands are allowed to define the law in such a dramatic way, passing society's norms through their own, some would say, skewed value systems.
The Minister, with a sense of emphatic condemnation, continued "American law schools are as I speak designing and presenting feminist and race based sensibility courses whose goals are to make illegal many forms of conversation throughout the United States of which they, the ministers of justice, do not approve. Do we want this for Japan? I say an emphatic, no! America is now a Country without anything but rules, rules and more rules, beyond the power of our Gods to remember.
These race and feminist sensibility courses are creating law graduates often embittered, brainwashed or in some deviant way prepared to lower the sword of Damocles upon perpetrators of "speech crimes," crimes defined in accordance with whatever ethics currently in vogue among other lawyers."
What is the Japanese Justice Minister suggesting here?
Can America's lawyer problem really be as bad as he has portrayed it?
Well, let's take a look.
In the US, each state's legislature, comprised overwhelmingly of lawyers (90%+), passes an average of 2,000 new laws each year. Add to that local ordinances and federal statutes, and the US suffers 150,000 new statutes placed on the backs of its citizens annually, just daring anyone to say he or she is ignorant of even one of them.
The 150,000 laws, of course, does not count the millions of new regulations that result from the new statutes.
Along with this world-record pace of adopting new laws and regulations, America also maintains the world lead in placing its citizens in cages, 3.5 million strong. So, America the Land of the Free has the distinction of having the most lawyers, most laws, most jails, most jailers, most prisoners. Is there a pattern emerging here?
Is America Really Overrun by Lawyers?
Let's compare the US situation with that of France.
The French maintain a total of 45,000 attorneys plying their trade within their borders, one attorney for every 1500 citizens. Japan, the land of our good Minister above, has one attorney for every 1150 citizens.
In contrast, the United States has 1.2 million lawyers, or one attorney for every 265 citizens, each dreaming of an income well above the average, and planning to get there or "bust."
It is a rare day also that American lawyers do not involve the United States in conflicts, both armed and unarmed to be fought, yes, you probably guessed by non-lawyers. If the conflicts are non-violent, well, that simply gives lawyers something to work on.
It is interesting to note that, when the common man uses language such as "raining on my parade," or saving for a "rainy day," he or she is generally referring to occasions and happenstances best avoided. However, in an American law firm, when it "rains heavily" such is the motivation for a smile on every countenance.
Only within the American law profession does "making it rain" mean something extremely positive.
If telephones do not ring in a law firm, signaling business is not forthcoming, American attorneys scurry to find ways of solving that particular problem. No "making it rain" is often used as a basis for denial of partner status or even maintaining employment at all.
Picking up Japan's Minister's train of thought again, he says, "Men and women need to first and foremost seek to discuss a problem with their neighbor, that is, make a good faith attempt to solve a conflict on a brother to brother basis. We do not wish to do or to be like Americans who, often, at the prodding of attorneys in need of business, wreak havoc on their neighbors without ever giving civil conversation a try."
So, You May Ask, What Brought All This On?
Why am I, a mere junior at Linda Christas College, thinking about this subject at all, rather than enjoying the process of becoming an educated human being? Why all the negativity?
Well, what brought this subject of attorneys into focus for me was a radio program I had the misfortune to tune into as I was driving to my study buddy's home on a weekend. (Linda Christas College provides each student with a compatible partner who is majoring in the same subject, so as to be able to compare ideas relative to the material. In our case, my study buddy and I are taking bachelor's degrees in Environmental Sustainability Engineering. The courses are wonderful.)
Linda Christas Study Buddies
As I listened, I became more and more upset, so much so that I finally had to pull off to the side of the highway to calm down.
The program, I will simply refer to as Champions, each weekend brings lawyers and judges together in a radio studio to explain how their profession, that of American law, should be considered the path of heroes.
From my perspective what I heard on Champions is exactly what is grossly wrong with America.
America has developed an international reputation for cruelty, so much so, that nations friendly to the US, like Japan, use America's system of justice as something to be avoided at all costs.
One law firm owner on Champions, who now has over 300 attorneys working for him, both in the US and England, described how he is a hero of justice by suing everything that moves.
He complained on air that, early in his career, he was surprised, once he received his law degree, that he was not busy. People were not telephoning him to "champion" their causes.
However, this now successful law firm owner soon remedied that situation by aggressively ferreting out all the potential conflict he could find.
Once a potential conflict was identified, the attorney prodded the persons involved with dollar signs, encouraging them to sue their neighbors, rather than talking the problem over first.
Then, this same champion continued by giving examples of the good he was doing his community.
First, he spoke of the crack in a sidewalk in front of someone's home that caused a child to trip and injure his toe. Well, that was worth a half million dollar law suit, at minimum. The older gentleman who lived there should have known better.
His second example involved a "friend" who, while sitting in an open air restaurant with the champion himself, got so beer bombed, he tipped his chair over backward.
Of course, the champion sued the owner of the restaurant for not safeguarding his customers; and for serving his dear friend enough beer to get him drunk in the first place.
No mention was made of where his friend, the attorney, was when his so-called "dinner companion" was putting the booze away. The suit charged that "cautionary signs" relative to the chairs should have been placed in the general area of the tables. And, the chairs themselves were a bad choice, according to the suit.
Of course, this champion failed to mention that, as blind drunk as his friend was, whether he could have read the notices anyway. However, that wasn't the point of the exercise was it.
Doesn't matter though, the important point here is that, with this kind of tactic, the champion got his start. Now he is a star in the legal heavens. (The traumatized radio audience at this point was told that this law firm does only trial work. No sitting on their hands for the 300 strong voices. They need to be in court whining, complaining and, most of all, making it rain harder. The expansion of the firm to England must mean that the British don't have enough of these kinds of personalities of their own.)
Also, later in the program, we learned that the "beer bombed" restaurant is no longer in business in the US. The owner went back to his native Germany, and is now prospering.
The champion actually made the case that justice was served in that such an irresponsible business owner is better off in Germany rather than living in the Land of the Free. (Since it was a radio program, I don't know for certain if he said this with a straight face. However, the words themselves were terrifying.)
The really sad aspect of this program's participants is that, along with being very successful members of the bar in a cash and carry sense, these fellows seemed to have no concept that what they are actually championing is something called "complete justice." "Complete justice" has another name. It is called tyranny. And, someone has to decide what the absolute rules are. I'm sure if the reader has gotten this far, he or she can conjure several names of individuals just in the 20th Century who attempted to enforce "Complete Justice."
States with the most lawyers, like California, also rank the lowest, 47th in California's case, in the US as the most unfriendly states in which to live and work.
On a more personal note, I witnessed a situation develop in my own family that showed me that, generally, people will be reasonable if approached in a reasonable way.
The issue had to do with a disagreement over a hospital billing error. It was quite an error, in the $25,000 range.
My Dad was warned by the hospital's contract attorney to cease attempting to contact the managers at the hospital who had the power to sit down and discuss the issue.
The lawyer was bound and determined to earn a huge fee in court by defending the hospital.
Well, Dad ignored the attorney, and finally found the person to speak with, and resolved the situation for the $25,000 involved.
The attorney was angry with my Dad. However, in my eyes, Dad was the champion of the day.
So, is being a lawyer all bad, and are all bad things related to lawyers? Of course not!
As promised earlier, in this section of the article, I will suggest more productive ways to use a law degree, other than making it dangerous for ordinary citizens to step out of their front doors (According to the older man with the crack in his sidewalk, one is not even safe there from the long arm of Complete Justice.).
For example, there are attorneys such as Tristan Bernard, John Grisham, John Galsworthy and hundreds of others who used their abilities with language to write popular literature.
John Cleese, the famous actor, got his start studying law.
Otto Preminger, the celebrated Director, studied law in his native Austria.
Henri Matisse, the wonderful painter, studied law.
Leonard Horn, a lawyer, was the CEO of the Miss America Pageant.
Charles Dawson, a lawyer, discovered Piltdown Man. The lovable Howard Cosell, the sports announcer, was a lawyer.
Alan Eagleson was a National Hockey League Union representative.
Other lawyers represent the relatively rare individuals who have actually been injured by an "un-repentant" act of another.
Other ways to productively use a law degree include,
-Making certain that if elected to office, the lawyer never introduces a new law just to be "doing" something;
-Using the gift of language to arbitrate disputes for a fixed, reasonable, fee rather than working on a contingency basis;
-Use the gift of language to assist in Public Relations efforts;
-Work for the abolition of all laws that punish for victim-less crimes;
-Be a teacher;
-Be a counselor;
-Work to standardize communication between and among nations.
In other words, work toward the light rather than the dark side of human potential.
And for heavens sake, avoid Making It Rain.