Sunday, February 23, 2014

In Defense of the Legal Profession

I entered the legal profession because of my strong belief that it was a noble profession and could do much to defend the weak from the powerful and fight against injustice. After more than 50 years in this profession I have not changed my mind but get a little weary of the legal profession being blamed for a multitude of sins—especially by the right-wing elements that seem to speak so loudly today. 

The Tea Party, in particular, seems to have bought into the Republican strategy of demonizing lawyers. Those who attack the legal profession need to expand their study of American History beyond the Boston Tea Party.  History will show that lawyers, more than members of any other profession, were leaders in creating a nation of free men.  At the writing of the Constitution dubbed “the miracle in Philadelphia,” there were more lawyers present and participating at the risk of being hanged than any other profession.  Had the conservatives in the 1700s had their way, America would still be under the rule of Great Britain.

While lawyers are vilified as greedy ambulance chasers who add nothing to the good of society, history proves this characterization absolutely wrong. 

Lawyers were in the forefront of fighting to protect the right of working men and women to organize themselves into unions and try to secure better wages and working conditions.  Lawyers fought the brave fight when companies such as those owned by Rockefeller and other billionaires were actually shooting union members for daring to form picket lines around their businesses.

Lawyers were blamed for the high costs of medical care when the Republican conservatives in Texas passed so-called medical tort reform on the theory it would lessen the costs of medical care.  This has proven to be a lie.  If you don’t believe this, simply check the last bill you received from a medical provider.  While it may have increased the profits for hospitals and other medical providers, it’s done little to lessen your medical bills.

Were it not for lawyers, working men and women in industry would still be contracting asbestosis and other industrial diseases.  While industry covered up this horrendous attack on working people, lawyers, to their credit, uncovered it and sought justice for those condemned to an agonizing death caused by some greedy industrialists simply wanting a better profit.

Lawyers have led the fight for justice, for minorities, women, safer automobiles, and the efforts to stop environmental poisoning by various industrial plants throughout the nation.

Conservatives, particularly in Texas, have continued their unrelenting attack to make it harder for injured workers to receive a fair jury trial. And, most recently, the Republican Supreme Court has ruled that arbitration agreements forced bypowerful companies against individual workers are okay.  All of this is done in the guise of trying to provide a cheaper method of resolving disputes when, in fact, all it does is empower the rich and powerful at the expense of individual workers and ignores the mandate of the United States Constitution that American citizens should have access to jury trials.

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