GPSolo Magazine - July/August 2005
Reinventing Your Law Practice
First, my congratulations to outgoing Chair Lee S. Kolczun for leading the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section to new heights and through an outstanding bar year. Together, our Team has accomplished a great deal under Lee’s leadership—including the historic surpassing of the 30,000 member mark. The ABA and GP|Solo Section are fortunate indeed to have been the recipient of Lee’s vision and leadership. Lee, on behalf of GP|Solo lawyers everywhere, thank you!
Transition is a constant—especially for lawyers in our increasingly mobile society. Our society has changed drastically in just the past 20 years. Technology and the computer have revolutionized business, industry, and our profession.
We’ve devoted this issue of GPSolo magazine to transition and “Reinventing Your Law Practice” to lend new perspectives to many facets of transition. In this issue you’ll find outstanding articles covering a gamut of transitional issues and topics. I know you’ll find them informative and thought provoking.
As you consider the topics discussed in this issue of GPSolo, I’d like for you to give serious consideration to what I believe is an escalating and alarming threat to our democracy and to our abilities as Main Street Lawyers to effectively protect our clients: the resurgent, intemperate, and strident attacks on this nation’s judiciary.
As lawyers, we all know that an independent judiciary is the bedrock of our freedoms and of the very rule of law. I am shocked and dismayed by the unwarranted and frankly outrageous quotes of “public servants” and other misguided activists aimed straight at our judicial system. For example:
“I’m a radical! I’m a real extremist. I don’t want to impeach judges. I want to impale them!” Attributed to the chief of staff of Oklahoma’s recently elected junior senator.
“Ronald Reagan said the Soviet Union was the focus of evil during the cold war. I believe that the judiciary is the focus of evil in our society today.” Attributed to a recently failed senatorial candidate.
“The Supreme Court says we have the right to kill babies and the right to commit buggery. They say people have no right to express themselves, that the people have no right to make laws. Until we have a court that reflects a majority, it is a sick and sad joke that we have a Constitution here.” Attributed to a headline speaker at the recent conference “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith.”
Speakers at the same conference reportedly likened judges to “communists, terrorists, and murderers,” and one speaker called the decision in the Terri Schiavo case “an act of terror in broad daylight aided and abetted by the police under the authority of the governor.”
“ The judges need to be intimidated.” Attributed, incredibly, to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Majority Leader.
As lawyers, we understand—but sometimes take for granted—that judicial independence in a democracy means acting impartially, making just decisions, and being perceived to act without the undue influence of outside forces. As detailed in an excellent ABA Law Day tool kit, an independent judiciary upholds three critical values for a democratic society:
1) The rule of law, ensuring that every individual, of whatever social standing, is subject to the same protections and restrictions under the law and that powerful people do not manipulate legal proceedings;
2) Constitutional integrity, preserving the ability of the Constitution to protect our freedoms and order our society by ensuring that one societal institution has the power to overturn laws that violate the Constitution; and
3) Enforcement of the law, guaranteeing that legitimate laws will actually be enforced, not simply stated as theory.
The ABA has many exemplary resources on judicial independence, including a tool kit to help lawyers, bar leaders, or anyone working to address the attacks on our judiciary. I urge you to visit the website of the ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence at www.abanet.org/judind/home to review these materials and further educate yourself so that you can be a more effective voice for judicial independence.
All of the lawyers and citizens of this great Republic simply must join together to renounce all attacks on our independent judiciary. Otherwise, the abilities of all of us as lawyers to protect and represent our clients will vanish. We cannot remain silent in the face of these attacks.Lawyers of America, embrace judicial independence today. Do not sit idly by. Speak out! We are all powerful educators and opinion leaders. We must collectively reject, rebuke, and renounce on all fronts all attacks on the principle that protects our freedoms and the rule of law—judicial independence.