Denver Bar Association
September 2008
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Rosenbaum: Lawyers Rule!

by Stanton Rosenbaum


I am tired of the press and society listing lawyers next to used car salesmen. I am sick of lawyer jokes and bad lawyer cartoons. I think it’s wrong when marketing gurus advise us: When someone asks what our line of work is, we shouldn’t simply say, “I’m a lawyer.” What we should say instead is something exotic, like: “I deal in mega mergers and acquisitions,” or “I keep clients from paying death taxes.”

More than 50 people who signed the Declaration of Independence were lawyers. By signing the Declaration of Independence, they signed their own death decree. King George had decreed that all signers caught would be hung.

Through the ages, it has been lawyers who have protected the rights of citizens. Lawyers have seen to it that the Constitution has been followed. People may not agree with every court decision, but decisions are made from the law, not based on riots or the guillotine.
We may not agree with protecting terrorists, but it is the lawyers who are standing up to see they get a trial under American jurisprudence.

I cannot believe that an Attorney General of the United States cannot determine whether various “methods of interrogation” are torture — it was lawyers that raised the issue.

We are maligned and criticized, yet we are the bulwark upholding the basic rights of the citizens that are guaranteed in the Constitution. No other profession does that.

I recently saw “Recount,” the fictionalized version of Florida Bush v. Gore. The attorneys on both sides argued vehemently for their cause. When the Supreme Court ruled Gore’s attorneys felt there were still arguable grounds to continue before the Florida Supreme Court, Gore told them, “Enough. The Supreme Court ruled and we will abide by the rule of law.” There could have been riots or worse. Due to Gore’s respect for the law, there were none.

It is about time that Americans understand that it is not the “proud and the true” that protect them. It is the lawyers who go to court, day in and day out, to protect their rights to free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to a speedy and fair trial in front of their peers.

Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear the government, that is tyranny. When the government fears the people, that is democracy.” I think he should have said, “When the government fears the lawyers, that is democracy.”

Instead of the lapel pin that says, “I’m proud to be an American,” we ought to wear lapel pins that say, “I am proud to be a lawyer!”

Stanton Rosenbaum received the Award of Merit at the Denver Bar Association Annual Party in June. At The Docket’s request, Rosenbaum transcribed the inspiring speech from his brief notes. He said he was inspired as he pondered the Jewish holiday that day, Shavuot, which celebrates the time Moses received the Ten Commandments — The Law.

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