cttriallawyers : If You Are a Lawyer

If You Are a Lawyer

Theodore I. Koskoff, was known for the passion he brought to the practice of law. His inspiring personal view about the lawyer's contributions to society.

If You Are a Lawyer

// Hartford, CT, USA // cttriallawyers // Ted Koskoff (1913-1987) Past President CTLA
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, WHAT ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU?

IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, YOU STAND BETWEEN THE ABUSE OF GOVERNMENTAL POWER AND THE INDIVIDUAL.

IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, YOU STAND BETWEEN THE ABUSE OF CORPORATE POWER AND THE INDIVIDUAL.

IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, YOU STAND BETWEEN THE ABUSE OF JUDICIAL POWER AND THE INDIVIDUAL.

IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, YOU ARE THE HAIR SHIRT TO THE SMUGNESS AND COMPLACENCY OF SOCIETY; AND

IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, YOU ARE HELPING TO MOLD THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

IN SHORT, IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, YOU ARE THE TRUSTEE OF OUR LIBERTIES.

THIS IS OUR CREED; THIS IS OUR COMMITMENT; THIS IS OUR HOLY GRAIL.

AND WHO DO WE SEE WHO HAVE PERFORMED THIS HISTORIC ROLE?

THE LAWYERS WHO HAVE SHAPED OUR DEMOCRACY.

I SAW HIM SO LONG AGO, A PHILADELPHIAN IN NEW YORK, THE FIRST PHILADELPHIA LAWYER AT THE NATION’S FIRST POLITICAL TRIAL, UPHOLDING JOHN PETER ZENGER’S RIGHT TO PUBLISH WHAT HE CHOSE, FREE FROM CENSORSHIP OR INTERFERENCE. HIS NAME WAS ANDREW HAMILTON, AND HE WAS A LAWYER.

I SAW HIM AT THE TRIAL OF CAPTAIN PRESTON, ANOTHER POLITICAL TRIAL, THE UNPOPULAR CAUSE AND CLIENT ARISING OUT OF THE BOSTON MASSACRE. HIS NAME WAS JOHN ADAMS, AND HE WAS A LAWYER.

I SAW HIM AT THAT MIRACLE IN PHILADELPHIA, THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1787, FIGHTING FOR THE BILL OF RIGHTS, THE CREDO OF AMERICAN FREEDOM NOT ADOPTED UNTIL 1789. HIS NAME WAS JAMES MADISON. HE WAS A LAWYER.

I SAW HIM PRESIDING OVER THE SUPREME COURT OF OUR LAND, THE ARCHITECT OF THE REAL POWERS OF THE SUPREME COURT. HIS NAME WAS JOHN MARSHALL, AND HE WAS A LAWYER.

I SAW HIM EXHORTING THE BATTLE CRY OF THE REPUBLIC, “GIVE ME LIBERTY, OR GIVE ME DEATH.” HIS NAME WAS PATRICK HENRY, AND HE WAS A LAWYER.

I SAW HIM AT GETTYSBURG WITH TEARS IN HIS EYES, GAUNT AND MOROSE, REDEDICATING OUR COUNTRY TO THE PRINCIPLES OF EQUAL JUSTICE FOR ALL. HIS NAME WAS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, AND HE WAS A LAWYER.

I SAW HIM, AN ELEMENTAL MAN, FIGHTING FOR ONE CAUSE OR ANOTHER IN DAYTON, TENNESSEE, PREACHING THE LEGITIMACY OF EVOLUTION. HIS NAME WAS CLARENCE DARROW, AND HE WAS A LAWYER.

I SAW HIM SPEAKING TO US FROM HIS WHEELCHAIR, LIFTING OUR SPIRITS, MAKING US STRONGER WITH HIS INSPIRATIONAL PHILOSOPHY, “THE ONLY THING WE HAVE TO FEAR IS FEAR ITSELF.” HIS NAME WAS FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, AND HE WAS A LAWYER.

I SAW HIM IN THE SENATE HEARING ROOM IN WASHINGTON, UTTERING THAT ANGUISHED CRY FOR DECENCY. HIS NAME WAS JOSEPH WELCH, AND HE WAS A LAWYER.

AND I THOUGHT OF THE PRECIOUS MONUMENTS THEY HAD LEFT TO THEIR LIVES AND OF MILTON’S WONDERFUL COMMENT ON SHAKESPEARE THAT, “THOU IN OUR WONDER AND ASTONISHMENT HAST LEFT THYSELF A MONUMENT”. AND THEN YOU MIGHT THINK, WHAT KIND OF A MONUMENT WILL I LEAVE? NOT ONE OF BRICK AND MORTAR OR STONE, BUT A THOUGHT BECAUSE ONLY A THOUGHT LIVES.

AND, FINALLY, I THOUGHT OF THAT MARVELOUS ADMONISHMENT OF HOLMES, WHEN ALMOST A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, HE SAID, “I THINK THAT AS LIFE IS ACTION AND PASSION, IT IS REQUIRED OF MAN THAT HE SHOULD SHARE THE PASSION AND ACTION OF HIS TIME AT THE PERIL OF BEING JUDGED NOT TO HAVE LIVED.”

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