January 01, 2015

Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

Twelve veteran lawyers comment on what they regret—or don’t—about their careers.

Gerry Spence, Hon. Ruggero Aldisert, Abe Krash, Bettina Plevan, David Berg, Michael L. Shakman, Carolyn Lamm, Adlai E. Stevenson III, Newton Minow, Hon. Marilyn Milian, Jeffrey D. Coleman, Rusty Hardin

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We asked several prominent, veteran trial lawyers and judges to look back at their lives and careers, and this is what they wrote:

Gerry Spence

Like most old men looking back, I tend to forget the major regrets in my life. Mine may have been in becoming a trial lawyer in the first place. I learned how to try cases by failing. I regret I wasn’t taught in law school the first rudimentary principles of a jury trial. But how could that happen when most of the professors had never been in a courtroom?

I regret that I ever represented insurance companies and large corporations. But that’s like wishing one had never sinned. I wish that in winning I hadn’t been so arrogant. But it takes a good deal of daring to walk into a courtroom with a growling, black-robed old crank (likely a former prosecutor) staring down at you, along with a jury composed of ordinary citizens who have been trained by the corporate media to believe that criminal defense attorneys are scumbags and plaintiffs’ lawyers are blood-sucking charlatans.

In short, the justice system is broken. It does not deliver justice to the people, most of whom are poor or are teetering at the threshold of poverty. The system is the handmaiden of corporations—those nonliving fictions some of which are so gargantuan their assets exceed those of entire countries. Bullets, knives, axes, and even bombs cannot kill these monsters. Only money moves them. They live on money, digest money, and excrete money. If money is taken from them, they will starve and eventually die. Indeed, they poison the earth for money, poison the people for money, wage fraudulent wars in which innocent people by the hundreds of thousands are murdered—for money. The problem is, of course, they are like a creation out of hell. They have no soul.

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