By: August Bequai
Howe rapidly the iron age succeeds the age of brass!
-William Erskine, Epigram
The legal profession has been part of the human existence since the dawn of civilization. The Code of Hammurabi was the construct of lawyers, and Emperor Justinian’s Code stressed the indispensable role that lawyers play in society. No less today, than in antiquity.
Lawyers, however, have not lacked for cynics and detractors. Oliver Goldsmith observed, “Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law”; while Anatole France noted, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges.” The Industrial Revolution, with its economic inequalities, did much to reinforce the perception that lawyers are the Praetorian Guard of the rich.
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a profound social, economic and political transformation of our society. Wrought on us largely by the impact of the IT Revolution; with no end in sight. Privacy is threatened at every turn; while the chasm between the economic elite and the masses has grown astronomically. Confidence in our political institutions has dramatically waned, and hucksters use social media to play our citizenry off against each other.
These are dangerous times for our society, and confidence by the public in our legal system is, more than ever, of paramount importance. It is the firewall that safeguards our freedoms. Writing at the time of the Industrial Revolution, W.S. Gilbert said it best, “The law is the true embodiment, of everything that’s excellent.” Now, more than ever, those words ring true.
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