To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
In today's world, lawyers are often among the least trusted of all professions. Lawyers are often maligned, stereo typed and vilified because the lawyer's role in society is generally misunderstood. I am often guilty of being humorous at the expense of my profession. However, I am the first to explain the context of the often-quoted line from Shakespeare's King Henry VI, "first thing we must do is kill all the lawyers." "Dick The Butcher," the plotter of treachery, utters the line in Shakespeare's play as part of a plot to overthrow the King. The surest way to chaos and tyranny is to remove the guardians of independent thinking, that is, killing the lawyers.
I was recently reminded of the need to defend the lawyers' role in American society and, for that matter, the world overall, by a local production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Surely Mockingbird's Atticus is one of the great fictional lawyers. Atticus Finch, acting as a criminal defense lawyer in a hostile environment, clearly and dramatically portrays the importance of our profession's role in a civil and just society.
It is with great admiration that I have followed the news from Pakistan regarding the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry from his post by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf this last spring. Lawyers condemned the Chief Justice's suspension as an attack on the judiciary's independence. The suspension was alleged to have been an attempt to avoid legal challenges if President Musharraf seeks to unconstitutionally extend his rule later this year. Following the Chief Justice's suspension, many Pakistani judges resigned and lawyers boycotted courts across Pakistan to protest the Chief Justice's suspension and call for his reinstatement. The Pakistan Bar Council President publicly called for a nationwide strike by Pakistani lawyers. Several lawyers committed to hunger strikes. Thousands of lawyers protested outside the Supreme Court. Riot police injured at least twenty Pakistani lawyers during a sit-in by lawyers outside the High Court.Gunmen shot out windows at the house of a lawyer representing the suspended Chief Justice. Gunmen killed a witness scheduled to appear on the Chief Justice's behalf at his home. In July, the Supreme Court of Pakistan reinstated the Chief Justice. Finally, on July 31, Pakistani President Musharraf bowed to the pressure and accepted the judiciary's reinstatement of Chief Justice Chaudhry.
These brave lawyers in Pakistan illustrate the importance of lawyers as guardians of the rule of law and the rights of individuals. Next time you hear someone denigrating lawyers, remember these brave Pakistani lawyers who made great personal sacrifices and risked their own lives and liberty to protect the rule of law. Explain to those around you the true importance of our profession.
If you are in-house counsel in the Charlotte region, I invite you to join the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel at our next luncheon at noon on September 5. Enjoy the camaraderie of your in-house peers and a very entertaining and informative multi-media program on the potential pitfalls of advertising, trademark misuse and copyright infringement, presented by Jim Astrachan, author of the Law of Advertising, published by Matthew Bender, and a columnist for ADWEEK Magazine. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.