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Are There Any Truly Altruistic Lawyers

dollar-sign-manScott H. Greenfield, a criminal defense attorney, just argued a case before New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. He was discouraged to find out during oral arguments that even the judges in New York’s highest court do not have much faith in the altruism of lawyers. You can read that interesting post here.

A singer, Tom Paxton, expresses a sentiment similar to those of the judges in the Court of Appeals in his song. One Million Lawyers. Here’s the chorus, just to give you an idea:

In ten years we’re gonna have one million lawyers,
One million lawyers, one million lawyers.
In ten years we’re gonna have one million lawyers.
How much can a poor nation stand?

My Criminal Procedure professor took a poll of the law students in his class to see how many people went to law school in order to do something positive for the world. Almost half of the students indicated that they chose law school because they wanted to accomplish something positive as lawyers, whether that be as prosecutors, defense attorneys, Legal Aide attorneys or some other kind of public service type of law.

Mr. Greenfield also indicated that any attorney, whether or not they work in a practice area that is more openly public service oriented, may be moved to contribute to society by writing simply for the sake of education, intelligent discussion, and spreading knowledge. Some start blogs, write Law Review articles, or write articles for other publications and newspapers.

In any case, it would certainly be an oversimplification to characterize all lawyers as dollar-sign-eyed money fiends.

Picture courtesy of inmagine

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