July 28, 2005


Bar Assn. Examines Roberts' Credentials (GINA HOLLAND, July 28, 2005, AP)

The American Bar Association is reviewing whether the favorable recommendation it gave John Roberts for his federal appellate court judgeship is good for the Supreme Court nomination as well.

I look quizically back to my youth and wonder why I ever thought the law was an honorable profession.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 28, 2005 2:50 PM

What kind of recommendation did they give Abe Fortas?

Posted by: ratbert at July 28, 2005 3:07 PM

You probably watched too many episodes of Perry Mason.

Posted by: Brandon at July 28, 2005 3:08 PM

Law isn't an honorable profession. By its very nature it makes adversarial things which are not necessarily adversarial and forces Black and White outcomes when shades of gray are involved.

A reasonable knowledge of the law, something like one would get from a good law school in the first year with perhaps evidence, corporations/partnerships and UCC thrown in, should be a job requirement for pretty much everyone in any financial or related enterprise. Learning it on the fly as most of us do is terribly inefficient. The basic legal knowledge, as distinguished from any thought that I should have any business in a courtroom or advising people on legal matters, I've acquired over the years helps me to understand much of what goes on in the business world and, most importantly, enables me to ask the right questions of lawyers representing my employer or representing me in my private dealings. It helps me cut thru the BS.

Posted by: bart at July 28, 2005 3:10 PM

Too many people who practice law today seem like the annoying kid who you'd be playing tag with who would immediately shout something like "New game!" when things weren't going their way. So a qualified rating for a Roberts (or any other person approved for a lower court position) can be nullified when future events don't go the way the left in the ABA expected -- in this case, when a person they weren't expecting to be nominated for a Supreme Court position gets tabbed over the ones they already had in their radar, like Miguel Estrada.

Posted by: John at July 28, 2005 3:27 PM

Sure, I'll be the javelin catcher. Glad to do it.

All honest labor is honorable, the law no less than any other. Law as a calling is special not in that it is honorable, but in its nature and its results. The law -- and the following metaphor is not mine -- is a great edifice built across the centuries. Lawyers today work with the lawyers of the past and the lawyers of the future to build and maintain the fortress that shelters us all.

And that is the second feature that elevates the law as a profession. The state has the guns -- it can do as it pleases. Law is not a weapon of the state, but our shield and sword against the state. Obviously, at times the sword breaks and the shield fails, but the only purpose the law serves is to provide the weak some measure of power against the strong.

Now, the lawyer haters among us will respond with stories of the law gone wrong, or of lawyers who don't seek justice but knowingly seek to gain at the expense of others. All of this I grant you. But justice is not a result, it is a system and it does not require that the participants know the goal they serve. Like most other lawyers I know, I don't particularly like the practice of law. I am always proud to be a lawyer.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2005 3:45 PM

You should be proud to be a lawyer. And I for one thank you for helping the rest of us to avoid the effects of the law.

Posted by: h-man at July 28, 2005 3:50 PM

Well. Right then David, nice work today, I'll probably kill you in the morning.

Posted by: Dread Pirate Roberts at July 28, 2005 4:11 PM

The just beef is with individual lawyers, not the profession. Complaints about the law and lawyers as such arise because people do not recognize the harsh reality of the Fall and its consequences for finding some modicum of justice in the world.

Posted by: Luciferous at July 28, 2005 4:27 PM

lawyers are to society what friction is to an engine. they produce nothing of value, and create huge extra costs for everyone else. make all the excuses you want, but they are despised for a reason.

Posted by: cjm at July 28, 2005 4:35 PM

I was sitting at the end of the bar, drinking bar that is, when some guy comes in and yells
"All lawyers are a__holes!"
I told him I resented that remark and he responded by asking if I was a lawyer.
"No", I told him, "I'm an a__hole".
Take from this little morality tale what you will.

Posted by: Mike Daley at July 28, 2005 5:01 PM

Not lawyer related but a__hole related:
My Dad tells a story of going out driving with a friend in rural Michigan (they were staioned at Wurtsmith AFB). They come along a very long one lane bridge and start across. Another guy comes along from the other direction. They meet in the middle and the other guy shouts, "I don't back up for a__holes!" My Dad's friend shouts back, "Well I do!" and reverses back the way he came.
A possibly apocryphal tale but I still like it.

Posted by: Governor Breck at July 28, 2005 5:16 PM

Thanks, David, for the defense...and for the record I'm a lawyer who likes my job.

Back to the article: If a guy who was top of his class at Harvard Law School, editor of the Law Review, a successful practicing attorney in a respected firm and a long-time public servant (both in the executive and judicial branches) isn't "well-qualified", then to quote Annette Benning's roommate in "American President" "Isn't it possible that our standards are a bit too high?"

Posted by: Foos at July 28, 2005 5:26 PM

Lawyers have a disproportionate impact on society compared to their numbers. So, we get a lot of grief. Jokes are the price for owning one branch of the government and dominating the other two.

Everyone hates lawyers until they need one.

Posted by: Bob at July 28, 2005 5:33 PM

Some of my best friends are lawyers.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 28, 2005 6:04 PM

Foos: So you're the one.

But I never said lawyers don't like their jobs, I said they don't like the practice of law. Are you in private practice?

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2005 7:04 PM

David: Very well put. I had always been proud ot the law and disgusted with its practice. Most of the problem grew out of the ethical tailspin in which society found itself superimposed upon a glut of lawyers.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 28, 2005 7:24 PM

Something went haywire with the legal profession once plaintiff's lawyers and local judges figured out they could plunder national corporations to benefit local interests, including themselves, and national lawyers and judges figured out they could impose liberal laws just by calling their rulings "constitutional law." In both cases, they were trading on the high respect the American people had for judges and lawyers to usurp something to which they had no right.

The solution, in part, is for the American people to cease giving lawyers and judges the respect they once had, and that many fine lawyers and judges still deserve.

Posted by: pj at July 28, 2005 8:29 PM

It was advertising that ended the law as a profession.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2005 9:10 PM

Advertising was a lot of it. The increase in crime was the rest.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2005 9:42 PM

Prosperous Americans are inclined to out-source all their dirty work, including conflict resolution. The plague of attorneys is demand-driven.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 28, 2005 11:00 PM

Every time I start to miss practising law, I think about my former clients. A rum lot they were, one is still on the lam in the wilds of Peru.

Too many laws, too many lawyers, not enough religion.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 28, 2005 11:57 PM

The thing that galls me the most is when lawyers make what should be a relatively simple matter excessively complex. That bothers me about most things where people try to establish themselves as a kind of priesthood, whether it is law, medicine, science, math, politics or a million other areas.

Sometimes, when someone starts engaging in this kind of nonsense rather than speaking English, I feel like getting up, pointing a gun at him and screaming in my best Samuel L Jackson impression 'English (expletive deleted) can you speak it? Say 'what' again! Say what again! I dares ya! I double-dares ya!'

Posted by: bart at July 29, 2005 6:52 AM

It's up to judges to keep lawyers in line. Lawyers are paid by their clients to get results, and much of the abuse of the law comes from judges letting lawyers get away with crap that your average sustitute teacher wouldn't put up with. Cheers to the Texas judge who is cracking down on class-action abuse in the silcosis lawsuit.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at July 30, 2005 1:58 PM