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The Different Portraits of A Lawyer

Leading jurists such as Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis urged members of the bar to take a broader role of their ethical and social responsibilities. In the 1920s, Brandeis said:

"At the present time, the lawyer does not hold the

position with the people that he held years ago . . .

reason-the able lawyers have . . . allowed themselves

to be an adjunct of the great corporations and have neglected their obligations to use their powers for

One of the central tenets of the common law was that a lawyer was duty bound to act zealously on behalf of his or her client's interests. Lord Brougham in his representation of the Queen in Queen Caroline's case in 1820 said that "an advocate in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in the world, and that person is his client." Legal realists have always maintained that the lawyer in an adversary system must remain neutral and uninvolved with the ultimate outcome. When he was asked by Boswell in the 18th century how he could represent a cause known to be bad, Dr. Samuel Johnson replied: "Sir, you do not know it to be good or bad till the Judge determines it."

The issue as to the moral limits of a lawyer's single-minded devotion to the interests of the client, irrespective of other considerations, is explored in Stephen Vincent Benet's story, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1937), the first serious attempt in fiction to explore the ethical dilemmas faced by lawyers in their everyday practice. Jabez Stone, an unlucky farmer, sells his soul to the Devil in return for prosperity and success. The Devil keeps his end of the bargain but Stone does not. Webster defends Stone before a jury in Hell and secures Stone's acquittal. As the lawyer for the damned, Webster transforms the jury's attitude by making an impassioned appeal in which he reminds them of their common humanity and fallibility and also helps saves his own client from his hardness and meanness. According to Luban...

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The Different Portraits of A Lawyer. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:32, August 20, 2017, from
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