Magazine article Insight on the News

Open Bar Leaves Society Intoxicated with Litigation

Magazine article Insight on the News

Open Bar Leaves Society Intoxicated with Litigation

Article excerpt

Once upon a time, in the shining city on the hill, scholars, senators, clergymen and knights in shining armor represented the future to which the earnest young aspired.

Time moves on, and Progress with a capital P transforms shining cities on hills whether anyone likes it or not.

Now our children only want to grow up to be lawyers.

They choose law school despite the jokes, as in the approving applause from audiences watching Jurassic Park when a Tyrannosaurus rex reaches into a privy and kills a lawyer who is merely doing what comes naturally. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the new Supreme Court justice, becomes misty-eyed when she speaks of how wonderful it is that women make up almost half the law school classes. Many Americans merely regard this as more abuse of women.

Many of the college students who aspire to be lawyers may be stirred by the noblest ambitions to serve the commonweal, but experience suggests something else. A participant at the American Trial Lawyers convention in San Francisco more accurately captured his colleagues by describing their convention as the place "the sharks go to sharpen their teeth."

Melvin Belli illustrates the point with tips on how to beat corporate ogres with compensation suits: "If your client was hurt at work, make sure he isn't seen dancing or playing football." Such energetic activity comes later, when the worker uses his winnings to buy tickets to dance on a luxury cruise or expensive golf clubs to enjoy a life of leisure on the links.

Another lawyer, also appealing to histrionics, explained that a jury "should feel every bruise on your client's body as if it were their own." (That's especially important when there aren't any bruises.)

Many trial lawyers say that at heart they're modern-day Robin Hoods, finding novel ways to redistribute the wealth of the rich to the poor and victimized. …

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