What on Earth are Lawyers for?


The image of the lawyer in the present century is tainted and tattered. He is viewed as a villain, a hired gun, and the antithesis of justice. Sadly, most of these attributions are fair and justified. A small minority of them arise from a misunderstanding of the role of the lawyer, which again is largely the lawyer’s fault. And the question of the lawyer’s purpose in society has arisen countless times in countless places. The paper begins with a brief empirical analysis of the history of the lawyer, and that of his tool of trade, the law. It builds on the premise that the law is made for the benefit of society and that the lawyer, as a corollary, must exist for that purpose. The paper then proceeds towards an exploration of the idea of law as a communally owned resource and of legal knowledge as a public trust. The conclusion highlights practical ways in which the lawyer’s relevance to his society can be rekindled and the slipping professional image salvaged.


Jun 23 2023


13:30 - 14:15