As a lawyer, my eye was caught by an excerpt from one of The Road to Surfdom’s latest posts:
In a country where the federal cabinet consists of little but grey soulless lawyers, it’s ironic that some of the most admirable characters in the struggle to defend personal liberty and democratic principle are also members of the legal profession. Major Michael Mori showed us the best of the US law fraternity and now along comes Stephen Keim SC, with terrific personal courage, to challenge the government’s contemptible attempts to exploit Dr Mohamed Haneef for political advantage.
On behalf of my species, I wish to reiterate that not all lawyers are grey and soulless. Many lawyers are defenders of human rights and fair process. Stephen Keim seems to be one of these lawyers. But he is not alone. Look at the guys over at A Roll of the Dice in this post here, or Marcellous’ posts and Law Font’s post, just to pick a few. Many lawyers are acutely aware of the power that the law has over people’s lives, which is why I think civil libertarian organisations attract more than their fair share of lawyers.
Just because one is a lawyer doesn’t mean that one is a bad person. On the other hand, nor does it mean that you are better or more moral than other people. Let’s have a look at a few prominent historical lawyers (and/or people who received legal training): Thomas Jefferson, Goethe, Nelson Mandela, Slobodan Milocevic, Gandhi, Bill Clinton, John Howard, Lenin, Franz Kafka, Jeremy Bentham, Abraham Lincoln, Karl Marx, Gough Whitlam. I think you’ll agree that lawyers, like any other group, are a mixed bag.
So many of the mixed bag mentioned above are politicians or involved in political thought. Why is it that lawyers are attracted to politics? As I have explained previously, I think the law is in itself intrinsically political. That is why this blog became political. The law proscribes what people can do, and imposes certain standards of behaviour on society. It is involved with all the important processes of life. Indeed law in the form of legislation is the end product of the democratic process.
Anyway, don’t blame us all for the sins of some of our brethren. Some of us are decent people. Seriously, we are! Wouldn’t you trust this face?
[Puss in Boots from Shrek 2]