In his book The Soul of the Law (Element, 1994), former litigator turned psychotherapist Benjamin Sells discusses “winning.” He writes that a lawyer who attempts to win a case by any means necessary “is mimicking conduct from a time when might literally made right. When the legal profession places winning over altruistic ideals, it is returning to its barbaric roots.”
The return of barbarism in the context of winner-take-all litigation endangers the very ends the legal mind seeks to ensure. If winning supplants idealism, then anarchy, the law’s great enemy, must follow, as all sides do whatever is necessary to win. The argument that the quest for winning is proper so long as it is carried out “within the rules” is simply another way of saying the end is justified by the means.