Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hiding behind Lawyers

We all hate lawyers. This is not a new feeling, but one that has existed for centuries. Shakespeare was the one who first wrote the popular saying "...let's kill all the lawyers" [1]. And so lawyers get blamed for many, many problems in society, often deservedly so.

But since it is easy to blame them for so much, it is also easy to overextend that blame. To hide behind them. To hide your weakness and lack of resolution. Doing this, in my mind, is worse than whatever else we blame on lawyers.

The bottom line is that if you hire a lawyer, they work FOR YOU; you do not work FOR THEM. You hired them; they did not hire you. As such, they are there to advise and counsel you, to use their experience and knowledge to guide you. But they are NOT there to make decisions for you, to make you say and not say certain things, to run you business for you...[2] Gather their input and that of others, mull it over and make a decision, but that decision is ultimately yours. You can try and say "My lawyer won't let me..." but that is a lie. That is a pathetic lie. That is you hiding behind your lawyer because you don't have the guts to come out and say that you made the decision yourself.

So when an apologist goes online to blames lawyers for the mishandling of the Scientific American blogging fiasco, that is just plain wrong. I'd be shocked if lawyers weren't involved to some degree, but it is still is the SciAm people who made the final decisions and they are the ones that need to be held accountable, not their lawyers.


[1] People will argue that this line is taken out of context. As it occurs in the play, revolutionaries are plotting to overthrow the king and see lawyers as part of the status quo standing in their way. Hence, if you like society, then the lawyers are good people keeping that society going and so it can be interpreted as a pro-lawyer comment. I disagree. Lawyers defend both sides (both pro- and anti-revolutionaries), so they cannot be seen as all good.

[2 ]We have all seen people testifying before Congress taking the 5th amendment, (that part of the US Constitution that gives us the right to not incriminate ourselves). Repeat after me: "On advice of counsel, I decline to answer that question..." What's that first part? "On advice of counsel..." That's right, the lawyer gave advice and the client took it and recognizes it for what it is - advice.








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