Monday, September 5, 2011

The Goodness of the American Lawyer


After practicing criminal law for a number of years, I have heard my share of lawyer jokes.  I must say that most lawyer jokes are quite funny because they are based on true events that take place in courtrooms.  In fact, I have probably seen things take place in court that are funnier than any joke that you could come up with.

Despite the good and bad natured jokes about lawyers and the sometimes negative press that we endure, I believe that my fellow attorneys are generally very good people.  Here are some of my observations about lawyers in the west Georgia area that support this conclusion:

1.    COMMUNITY SERVICE - I have noticed that lawyers in our community are some of the most giving people when it comes to time and money.  Whether it be representing someone on a pro bono basis or giving money to organizations like local churches and soup kitchens, lawyers are always there for support.

    For example, the West Georgia Trial Lawyer’s Association recently held our 2nd Annual C.A.R.E.S. Bicycle Helmet Giveaway at Mayfest in Carrollton.  We, along with the Carrollton FOP and the Carrollton Police Explorers gave out almost 300 bicycle helmets to children in our community to promote bike safety and injury prevention.

2.    FRIENDSHIP AND FELLOWSHIP - Some of my best friends in this world are other attorneys.  Personally, I have developed deep bonds with many of my colleagues through my practice, the storms of trials, and through our weekly Pathfinders Bible study which consists of lawyers and non-lawyers.  I can personally attest that some of the most loyal, trusted people I have come to know in my community are lawyers.

3.    JUSTICE SYSTEM - If I counted the number of complaints that I have heard over the years about the justice system, I would still be counting next month.  Nevertheless, as I have said many times in prior columns, we have the best system.  The attorney participants in that system significantly assist in making it work.

    Our judges must make the tough day to day decisions that have huge impacts on the lives of citizens.  The defense attorneys and prosecutors must put forward their respective positions of protecting the rights of the accused and of the victims of crimes.  The personal injury lawyers must protect the rights of the injured while the divorce attorneys are taking on the most devastating of circumstances when families are destroyed.

    This is all done in a relatively orderly manner and governed by the rule of law.  While many litigants are not happy with the outcome of their cases, the criminal and civil justice system provides for an alternative to raw human justice.  Raw justice would have such attributes as vigilante justice and violent retribution in criminal cases, the forceful taking of another’s property in civil disputes, and the violent disintegration of the family unit in divorce matters.  In a word, it would be chaos.

I am proud to be a member of my profession and am proud of my local colleagues as well.  We are a diverse group with different practice areas, and different belief systems.  But, I am happy that when I receive emails from people in the community with legal problems, I can, without hesitation, point them in the direction of a good local attorney who I can trust.


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