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What To Do With Lawyers

Posted on April 8, 2016

What do we need lawyers for, anyway? After all, did not Shakespeare, of all people, write in “Henry VI” that we should ”Kill all the lawyers”? And, what is more, when Shakespeare has written something is not what he has written to be understood as a wise pronouncement to be taken and understood as something akin to Holy Writ?

Shakespeare was pretty good, but not that good. However, on the subject of lawyers he was very good, indeed; and what he had to say about lawyers only emphasizes how important lawyers are to all of us, in general, and to each of us who has a legal problem, in particular.

Shakespeare does in fact have one of his characters speak the line: ”The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”.  Dick the Butcher speaks that line. Dick the Butcher was a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, someone who thought that if he challenged law and order he could become king. Dick the Butcher is a villain; he is not some wise, selfless, honorable and well-intentioned Englishman of Shakespeare’s time wishing to perform a public service by eliminating lawyers. Instead, by wishing to be rid of lawyers Dick the Butcher seeks to clear away the first line of defense that stands in the way of his treason and the kind of society he wished be substituted for the well-ordered legal system he sought to supplant.

Shakespeare meant Dick Butcher’s comment to be understood by the people of his time as well as ours as a compliment to attorneys and judges who stand for Justice, the Rule of Law and the benefits to be derived by good people everywhere from the uncompromising advancement and preservation of both. It is the best and most meaningful left-handed compliment of all time.

No one is perfect; and there are some in any profession who may fail from time to time. After all, not every line of Shakespeare’s is a gem or quotable, and even a few of his plays might be considered forgettable failures. But we still have every reason to cherish his work and no reason to ignore his inestimable value to our civilization by reason of his failures. I am sure Shakespeare would agree.

The first thing we should do then is what, by artful, literary indirection, the worthy Shakespeare wants us to do:  Keep the lawyers. That is to say, appreciate how much we all depend upon them, in one way or the other.  They are there for whomever may need a contract written, interpreted or enforced. They are there for whomever seeks an experienced and learned champion to stand as bastion against efforts to subvert individual or business interests. They are there to insure that whomever is injured, damaged, or victimized by any civil or criminal wrongdoing may obtain just compensation. They are there to defend whomever may be accused of violating the law, from minor motor vehicle offences to serious indictable crimes. In short, they are there for you.

Have a Question:  If you have a legal question or if you wish to have a free 30 minute consultation, you can submit it to or at (973) 839-9062.

You must not rely on the above information as an alternative to legal advice from an appropriately qualified attorney. This column does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you may contact our office.


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