Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/463

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The Influence of the Lawyer upon Public Opinion By the Editor THE opportunity of the lawyer to into the broad range of complicated promote the formation of a sound human transactions, and of clearly ob public opinion is no new thought, but serving what lies at the foundation of it is a thought which derives new signifi social order and inheres in the form of cance from Lord Haldane's address. institutions. These mental habits con Such an idea does not assume the exist stitute the prudence of the lawyer, which ence of a bar possessing a monopoly of is a virtue compounded of caution, wisdom and supremely adapted to observation, thoroughness, exactitude, mould public opinion, to the exclusion and impartiality. If the quality of pru of other agencies from a position of dence, as thus defined, is an attribute equal leadership. It does assume, how of the ideal lawyer rather than of the ever, a bar of high intelligence, worthy of ordinary practitioner at the bar, it taking to itself a large share of the re cannot be denied that the possession of sponsibilities of leadership, and of exert one or more of these ingredients, in a ing an influence secondary to that of no conspicuous degree, is closely associated with the lawyer type in the popular other social force. It may be timely, therefore, to inquire mind. The definition of course is not into the relative strength of some of the exhaustive, for it leaves out of account chief forces moulding public opinion in many of the distinguishing marks of the United States, with the purpose of those who attain the higher levels of making clearer how the bar stands in juridical wisdom, but it is explicit enough relation to other agencies, with respect to exhibit the difference between the both to its opportunities and to its prudence of the lawyer and the prudence of the layman, and to show that the qualifications. The quality of the lawyer that com lawyer has something, in consequence of monly receives least attention, because his training, to which the layman cannot it is usually taken for granted, is his lay claim in equal degree. prudence. From the earliest times the There is danger, in making any com traditions of his profession have incul parisons of this kind, of taking too cated that virtue, and when a lawyer much for granted, of assuming that an fails to attain the virtue of prudence it ideal is more commonly attained than it is not by reason of any defect in his really is. Obviously, also, there are to training. On the contrary, the rigid be considered possible advantages, on mental discipline which the study and the layman's side, of freedom from the practice of the law work to impose must effects of a possibly contracting disci affect even the dullest intellect, and pline, and there is room for an inquiry this schooling gives the lawyer an whether the training of the lawyers of advantage over other men, in that it today, and the influences of their voca tends to develop habits of carefully tional environment, are free from short determining the value of evidence, of comings which may seriously militate against the production of a full, wellcautious analysis of premises before for mulating conclusions, of looking minutely rounded professional wisdom. But need