First Kill all the Lawyers... or at Least Put Them Out of Work

With apologies to the many fine folks at law that visit these pages, and those of my colleagues here on RedState that ply the law, today I am going to act the vulgar Shakespearian and advocate to “first kill all the lawyers.” Well, if not kill them exactly, then at least put many of them out of work — not that I am any expert on Shakespeare, he says to a chorus of “you betchas.” Still, the thought comes to mind because of a recent story in the Boston Globe that waxes pathetic over the many Bean Town lawyers that can’t find a job in this faltering economy.

The Globe piece starts out with a pity party for Boston lawyer Paul Semenza, a lawyer for 25 years that cannot find a job in his chosen profession. He now sells sofas and mattresses in a furniture outlet. And to that I say, good riddance to Paul… at least figuratively as Paul may be the nicest fellow in the world. But may he take several thousands more of his kind with him into exile. Let them get real jobs that are useful to his fellows at long last.

Oh, the Globe tries to ratchet up the water works for the lawyerly set to the highest levels, but I’m not buying.

After years of giddy growth in Boston’s legal industry, the party is over because of the recession. Many of Boston’s most prestigious law firms have frozen salaries, slashed bonuses, and cut positions in the past few months. Goodwin Procter eliminated 74 jobs for attorneys and support staff nationwide, Nixon Peabody axed 56 jobs, Goulston & Storrs cut more than 40 jobs, Choate, Hall & Stewart let go 38 people, and Foley Hoag shed more than 30 jobs. In fact, there were so many firms announcing staff reduction on Feb. 12, some lawyers called it “Black Thursday.”

Oh, the humanities.

OK, so its easy to go for the cheap dig at lawyers, I know. But it IS a time honored tradition, especially since we can find such sentiment in Shakespeare. And don’t give me this shyster spin that claims that The Bard was really saying that lawyers were bastions of civilization, either.

Lo, but ‘e t’weren’t.

His Dick the Butcher character in Henry VI Part II was not saying we need to kill lawyers to eliminate the rule of law and allow chaos to reign supreme. He was saying let’s kill the lawyers because they have been killing us for years. Dick knew a kindred spirit when he saw one.

Alright, so what am I getting at? Check out this from the Globe:

The downturn marks an entrance into uncharted territory for one of Boston’s marquee industries. For years, major law firms consistently reported higher annual revenue and profits and vied with Wall Street for Ivy League law school graduates… And firms had little trouble passing along the cost to clients, who needed lawyers to help handle a growing number of mergers and other key business deals. That’s all changed, as demand has slowed and clients look for ways to slash their legal bills.

Can we review why all this legal advice was needed in the first place, why the boom times came for these lawyers? It is nothing less than the exponential growth of regulation and the avalanche of laws piled on top of laws written to further entangle the business community in confusion and red tape. Laws sponsored and written by lawyers in legislator’s clothing. All aimed at making it harder and more complicated to do business.

The shysters were in charge of creating their own nirvana. The foxes were not only guarding the hen house, but building it too.

Shakespeare’s low-born villain Jake Cade may have boasted of his ideal world where he would enforce “seven half-penny loaves sold for a penny” once he became King, but he was never going to be handed the keys to the kingdom. Unfortunately, we did just that for far too long — handed the keys to the kingdom to low-born villains. The plethora of lawyers in this country is no sign of high civilization but a national embarrassment.

Finally, let me assure the reader that I am not an anti-intellectual, anti-rule of law sort of fellow. I no more want Jake Cade’s anarchy and capriciousness than do the most law-loving jurists among us. I really don’t want to kill all the lawyers. But neither do I want to be ruled by those that seek to “interpret” the law to self-enrichment as opposed to living by its spirit. And, in this day and age, we have lost much of that spirit.

So, I rejoice at the troubles seen by Boston’s legal eagles and I hope their discomfiture is felt in every city of the land. I further hope that many of them find useful work in some furniture store or perhaps a nice Taco Bell somewhere. At least they’d finally be serving the public instead of milking them dry.

Anyway, let’s not kill all the lawyers in literal fashion. But let’s encourage them to seek a new profession, shall we?