Why lawyers are good for us and our economy

When I first saw this article, I was thinking it’d be a sarcastic, nasty piece.

It isn’t. It’s a rational, solid essay about “How lawyers (and lawsuits) drive our economy,” in the International Business Law Advisor. Very interesting and persuasive. And as an opening, the writer, Santiago A. Cuerto, dissects the famous Shakespearean quote from Henry IV about “killing all the lawyers.” I did not know how it was meant and who said it. Probably you didn’t know either:

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.

Mr. Cuerto goes on to say:

Overall, lawyers are there as a safeguard against, you guessed it, lawlessness.  Because of laws and lawyers, people aren’t afraid to engage in commerce, to participate in the creation of wealth, which raises everyone’s standard of living.  They know that there is a system, the legal system, in place to protect them, and that they will always have recourse should they need it.

That’s as succinct a defense of lawyers as it gets.

I have one quibble, though. He talks about how bad it would be for us if all we had was one phone company, etc. Maybe he doesn’t remember when we did have one phone company. It was terrific. And reasonable. And in its monumentally great physics lab, brilliant scientists were given the freedom to think theoretically, to explore and invent without being bound to a commercial purpose, a bottom line.

Ma Bell was a government monitored and regulated monopoly. I still sigh when I think of Ma Bell and Bell Labs.

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