“Why We Need Lawyers,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
The legal profession in the United States and in most parts of the world, largely consists of very large law firms which are composed of a fairly large number of partners and a number of associates; and, secondly, of businesses which have in-house legal counsel. These firms and corporate counsel function to service the extremely large business sectors of the world. The associates in these firms function to produce billable hours at a very large hourly rate of perhaps between $200 and $500 per hour to create profits for the law firms, which submit these bills to their business clients. The partners in these law firms have become so largely through the investment of money in the firm, possibly through a business or family connection, or through their ability to bring in corporate clients.
In fact, not only may they not be particularly talented or good lawyers but that particular quality is not required since they are in those very large law firm for one of the reasons I indicated. The partners in these law firms and corporate counsel as well, one could say, could obtain government positions position of a substantive character at times. In short, there may be a kind of power or money exchange between corporations, government, and very large law firms. Thus, most of the legal profession consists of this group of lawyers.
There is one other group of lawyers, much smaller in number who have far less power than the law firm and corporate counsel I have just spoken of. These are independent lawyers in their own firms, of their own creation, who seek to represent individuals and enforce their rights. Since these lawyers do not have large corporate or firm backing, for these lawyers to be successful requires some degree if ability, since, to put it bluntly, they are not getting any help from large number of paralegals and associates and they do not have a great deal or money.
These other lawyers we need and the world needs. These other lawyers, such as Thurgood Marshall, help bring about a better and more just society by taking on unpopular clients and unpopular causes. For every corporate lawyers and partner in the big law firm there is an individual practitioner who represents an indigent criminal. These lawyers seek to equalize society and perhaps provide a chance for people lacking in funds to gain a foothold in the system that they might not otherwise have.
The world system and the world power structure are stacked again these lawyers. They represent interests and persons whom most people would not like to admit are not only without funds or standing in the world, but, quite frankly, are mostly despised. No one would like to say this but the world respects money and power and does not particularly give respect to those persons who in not in that class of persons in that system. The world desperately needs independent lawyers who are willing to challenge traditions that should be changed and injustices that should be changed.
There was a time when women could not vote and African Americans had no rights. No doubt, at that time, the society resisted those groups gaining their rights and opportunities in the system and they also resist different groups of people in different ways in today’s world. The only hope for disenfranchised persons lacking wealth and not having much in material goods or social standing is this group of independent lawyers who by great effort and in the face of great resistance stand up for people whom society declines to share with. These lawyers give those persons a chance they might not otherwise have and, by giving a chance to those persons, things can happen in our system and society that we might never dream of.
The person who has money may get into medical school and make a lot of money, but if these persons I have just described get into medical school solely on talent alone, the next step could well be a cure for cancer or vaccine for Alzheimer’s. Lawyers who are unconnected with the power structure of the world can bring about chance in our society that might never happen.
We need independent lawyers because they are the only hope for most of the world that the world system want to shut out.
I end by stating without hesitation as a Christian committed to the historical Christian faith and the full authority of Holy Scripture that I have no choice but to take this view and position. Jesus embraced poverty; led a life of poverty; pronounced the poor blessed, as well as the poor in spirit. He was attacked for associating with publicans and sinners; his followers were sinners; he told us of our obligation to visit the sick, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison. He was executed as a criminal beside two criminals. I have other choice or option but to take this position.