Framing the Dialogue

Life Without Lawyers

“momentum has carried us to a point where we no longer feel free in daily interaction.  Almost any encounter carries legal risk.  Lawyers are everywhere, both literally – the proportion of lawyers in the workforce almost doubled between 1970 and 2000 – and in our minds, sowing doubt into ordinary choices.  Americans increasingly go through the day looking over their shoulders instead of where they want to go.”

Author Philip K. Howard proposes to liberate Americans from too much law in his book Life Without Lawyers acknowledging that law is vital to freedom, but can also destroy freedom.  As in the above quote from this book who has not stopped himself from saying something thinking that it might be taken wrong? 

I’ll admit that the title of the book intrigued me as I have come to believe that there are probably too many lawyers per capita in America.  I had looked forward to a lawyer-bashing book.  This book was not all about blasting the legal profession directly.  Indirectly yes.   Life Without Lawyers is more about how laws subvert our ability to make what used to be common decisions.  We are often paralyzed by fear of lawsuits.

We have all heard about the judge who sued a dry cleaner for $54 million dollars in a trial that lasted years.  Who didn’t wonder why it took so long for this suit to get kicked out of the court?  Too many laws allow/force people to rely on laws rather than personal accountability.  The book should have been called “Life Without Accountability,” but it probably would not have sold very many copies.

We tend to rely on rules to avoid responsibility unfortunately rules cannot discern shades of gray.  Rules are black and white.  How many stories have you read about a little boy being suspended from school for kissing a little girls.  According to the rules that is harassment even for a kindergarten student. 

Howard provides many recomendations, but you’ll have to buy the book to read them.  I was disappointed that there was not more anti-lawyer sentiment, so I have to add some on my own…

What’s wrong with lawyer jokes?

Lawyers don’t think they’re funny, and nobody else thinks they’re jokes.

I couldn’t help myself.

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