Lawrence Lessig Asks, What The Hell Is A Lawyer For?

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Photo: Joi Ito (CC)

If you’ve ever wondered, allow the freedom of information champion explain. Excerpted from his commencement speech at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, via Lessig Blog:

There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. There is no one in housing law who believes this is what law was meant to be. The disputes of ordinary people. The law of real people doesn’t work, even if the law of corporations does.

John Marshall — whose name this law school borrows — was not among the framers of our constitution. But among those framers, there were businessmen, farmers, scientists, physicians and some lawyers. No one could doubt the progress that business has made in the 225 years since our constitution was drafted. That progress is extraordinary. Likewise, the drafters would certainly be in awe of the progress in farming too. We could, if we chose, feed every human on the planet, three times over. We can cure cancer today. But we can’t give an ordinary citizen a easy and efficient way to protect her rights.

Courts are less open today than they were back then to the small claims — small in the scale of things, but not in their importance to those who bring them. Courts are less relevant to most Americans. The law has convinced most Americans that the law is for the rich, except that part of the law that involves the prisons.

Many of my students feel this corruption every day of their working life. They came to law school to do justice. They left law school to work in Inc. law — “inc.” as in “incorporated” as in the law for corporations. No doubt that is an honorable and important part of our profession, but for many of them, this isn’t the law they imagined when they came to law school…

Read More: Lessig Blog

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  • Colony Room

    kudos

  • Rogerio

    I feel the same here in Brazil, the law is only for the rich and corruption. Today one of the major newpaper is claiming people in a campain against corruption. I’m in.

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