The first thing we’ll do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
This famous quote from Shakespeare’s Henry IV has become a rallying cry, of sorts, for those who bash the legal profession. What they forget, however, is the context of the statement.
In fact, the reason the lawyers must be killed is not to cure political corruption, nuisance lawsuits and the various other malfeasant practices ascribed to the legal profession; the reason the lawyers must be killed is so that a tyrannical king can impose his will on the populace. Just as the clergy stands in the way of the heathen, so too the lawyers, with their knowledge of and reverence for the laws of the people, stand in the way of the tyrant.
Forget About that Awful Pew Study
So it’s disturbing when one reads of the results of a recent poll conducted by Pew Research. Of ten popular vocations, the legal profession is the one held in the least esteem; the one least admired, least seen as a contributor to the social good.
Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that the percentage of participants who view the legal profession favorably fell by 5 full points (from 23% to 18%) since the poll was last conducted in 2009. So, not only is the perception of the legal profession lower than doctors, teachers, engineers and artists, it’s sinking.
Are lawyers really the bane of society of our society? Are they really wrecking our country? Do they contribute anything worthwhile? Sure, we can point to the Public Defender who represents those who cannot afford representation, the civil rights advocate who works pro bono and the legal eagle who fights for the little guy when corporate America is stomping on his toes. But while these are all legitimate, there’s another way the legal profession has a positive impact on our lives, a very positive impact.
The Role of Lawyers (and Lawsuits) in Stimulating Our Economy
In 1992, a 79 year old woman spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee on her lap, causing third degree burns and necessitating costly medical treatments. She sued McDonald’s and was awarded more than $3 million in punitive damages by a jury. While the details of the case are far more complicated, it became the poster child for the argument against frivolous lawsuits.
But consider the case from another perspective: what if every time you ate at a fast food restaurant (or any restaurant, for that matter,) you faced the real possibility of injury, illness or even death? The answer is simple: you’d eat at home. There simply would be no restaurant industry, and thousands fewer jobs. Continue Reading