Kill All the Lawyers
And Forget About a Free Society
by Michael Koskoff
November 11, 2007
Shakespeare’s famous line, “Let’s kill all the lawyers,” has been repeated throughout the ages by comedians and lawyer-bashers alike. Even President Bush from time to time has jumped on the bandwagon, vilifying trial lawyers. The line was spoken in the play, Henry VI part 2, by a character, “Dick the Butcher,” a member of Jack Cade’s rebellion. Killing the lawyers was to be the first step in upsetting the social order.
Recent news makes the line not so funny.
In Pakistan, during the past few days, lawyers have been attacked by baton-wielding police under the direction of the nation’s dictator, Pervez Musharraf. “President” Musharraf knows what Shakespeare knew and what dictators have known throughout the ages – the key to quashing liberty is to destroy an independent bar.
As of this writing more than 25% of the nations lawyers are in jail, for all practical purposes shutting down the country’s judicial system. This leaves the citizens of Pakistan with no rights and no one to protect them against the unchecked power of Musharraf and the military.
The lawyers in Pakistan, operating in an independent judiciary, were all that stood in the way of absolute dictatorship. In much the same way, lawyers in our country stand in between the unchecked power of the government, the military and large multi-national corporate power.