Experiment with Thoughts

Despite some misguided opinions to the contrary I am not anti-lawyer. I am extremely pro-lawyer. The degree to which I am anti-anything is a matter of the topic and the facts. I am decidedly “anti” the current structure for the delivery of legal services in our society. A faithful reading of my thoughts will indicate my conviction that lawyers are not inherently bad - they are just drawn that way. (Pardon the pop culture reference to the famous Jessica Rabbit quote in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit.)

“The Frame” of negativity lawyers get “drawn” in is not “individually” of their own making, but at some point you have to say, collectively, there are issues that manifest the negativity. Of course a law clerk or an associate burdened with education cost and the passion to begin their professional lives, or a solo attorney who has not found a comfortable place at “the table”, or a “big law” attorney who has navigated the politics and the market to find a place at the table, are not “individually” accountable. I would even defend the “politician and government lawyers” who use their legal education to govern and write laws. They are not on the face of it individually responsible. I do not grant the same amnesty to the law firm structure and the delivery system it perpetuates.

Individuals manifest solution but they need access to collective thoughts and ideas. Is there agreement that the current system is no longer effective in its purpose or the needs of our society? Upon reflection, I am not sure. I can find power, money, authority and intellectual disagreement all along the spectrum. At one end is the motivation of pure “commerce” and at the other pure “benefit to society”. I don’t make any bones that I am of the view the “law firm system” does not fulfill its promise to our society and is too focused on profits and ego. My convictions lead me to believe that if there is not more focus on the “balance” of the current system, then, like all dysfunctional systems, there will be a revolution. I am not a big fan of revolutions. They tend to lay waste before they create.

I am part of the “system”. Those who think that “lawyers” are the sole “engineers” of the system don’t understand it. There is a huge support structure, public and private. Those of us, who provide our labor to support lawyers, develop software, create products to facilitate the “practice of law” have as much a stake in the “business of law” as the lawyers. And since we live in the very society this system impacts, we have just as much at stake in how it is “practiced”. Each non-lawyer is less than genuine when they say they are just following orders or filling a niche. The law is not a product like iPods or widgets; it is a foundational function of our way of life.

The most powerful of these “engineers” is collectively “the people”. The greatest “systems break down” spawned the “greatest social experiment” in human history, and it was started with the “thoughts and ideas” that “the individual” should be at the center of governance. The exploration of these ideas and thoughts was centuries old, yet ego and hubris prevented these ideas from finding expression in the old structure. Inevitably there came a moment and circumstances that swept away the old by revolution instead of evolution.

Collectively, “lawyers” have over time positioned themselves in such a way that they are now unavoidable if a person is to participate in society. Collectively “lawyers” have made a business out of this access. In a capitalistic society, I have no problems at all with charging a fee for this assistance. But when the “system” over time is made so complicated that assistance is “required”, then there must be an examination of the “balance” between “the business” and rights of the people to “access their society”.

The last 30 to 40 years have skewed the “system”. Lawyer and non-lawyer alike are all experiencing the seeds of dissatisfaction. Collectively, it is a “frame” of “our” own making and it needs to be examined in the clear light of day. Circling the wagons, with an "us vs. them" perspective, will not change reality but it will prevent evolution and plant the inevitable seeds of revolution.

There needs to be an openness to “experiment” so that “ideas and thought” can be adopted incrementally. The system needs to put, individually, “lawyers” back in the center and not at the mercy of the “structure”. The “structure centric model” is no longer effective in its purpose, nor filling the needs of our society. This blog is an experiment in thoughts and ideas. What if the individuality of the lawyer was inviolable? They were given a safety net by a “new structure” to practice law and “structural assumptions” were secondary or even tertiary? How would that change the reality of the picture in the frame?