“First, kill all the lawyers…”. was Shakespeare. Right?
A perfect example of the verbal attacks attorneys have endured through out history is an often misused quote from Shakespeare. Attorney critics frequently allege that Shakespeare said “First, kill all the lawyers…”.
If you read Shakespeare’s King Henry VI, part 2 act 4, you will learn that a scoundrel, Dick the Butcher (a henchmen to Cade, a political rebel), in a conspiracy to destroy the country’s social order and stability states “First we’ll kill all the lawyers”.
This quote is from a murderer and an anarchist (one who believes in political disorder and violence). The plan was that if the social underclass were to kill all educated people (anyone that could read and write) they could cause a revolt.
Cade actually had a man killed simply because he could read. Cade’s real agenda was to eliminate all opposition to his evil plan and to seize all power and rule as a dictator.
The point that Shakespeare seemed to make, by this statement, is that in the absence of laws and lawyers to help protect the rights of the individual citizens, dictators flourish and the rights of the people can be abridged. Education and the law are a dictators worst enemy.
Attorneys are neither angels nor devils, but they are necessary, like a standing army.
An army protects society from enemies. Likewise it is important to make sure that powerful or corrupt companies and individuals meet their legal obligations to the average American. It is usually attorneys that uncover misdeeds (even of other attorneys).
Many of our country’s founding fathers, individuals with great concern for the rights of people, were Lawyers, as were some of our greatest presidents. Perhaps the sheer importance of attorneys to our society is a reason for their place in the media spotlight.
We only have to look at a country where there are few or no attorneys such as China or Cuba to understand how fortunate we are to have attorneys fighting for our freedoms and legal rights.
Even in Shakespeare’s time, in 1450, lawyers were the people’s last defense against oppression and evil. In 1450 the rebels were the evil. Today it is attorneys who defend citizens against oppression, and the evils and corruption of corporations and individuals. Simply put, to be a nation of laws we need lawyers.
My translation of Shakespeare’s quote is: “If you want tyrants to rule, first kill all the lawyers”.
I am proud to be an attorney.
Please do not blame all of us for a few bad apples.
Make it a great day!
And proud of it!
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Spiva Law Group
1137 Mohawk Street
Savannah, Ga. 31419