The Influence of the Lawyer actual significance of important public transactions, such as the kind of report ing that makes a laughing-stock of con scientious and efficient courts, charged with the administration of some arti ficial system that furnishes the real root of the difficulty, or callously flaunts the details of an unimportant and badly conducted litigation on the front page day after day to the exclusion of more important news. They can likewise com plain of the disproportionate space allotted to the dissemination of dis torted and erroneous views on public questions on the pretext that they are printing the "news" of the day. Here the bar comes face to face with the entrenched habit and usage of news papers, and the force thus exerted directly by newspapers which do not dare to break away from tradition — and few of them do — is not to be over matched by any influence exerted by the profession upon public opinion. The bar here meets its most formidable rival, in the low standards of the press. If this foe of progress could be vanquished the greatest obstacle to the moulding of an enlightened public opinion would be removed. The only hope for remedy ing such an evil must lie in the better impulses of the press itself, in a move ment originating within the press of the country, aiming at a new classification of the news worth printing and the news not worth printing. But it would be a mistake to assume that the influ ence of lawyers on the daily press can be only negligible. Editors are open to friendly advice from persons who seek to point out their mistakes, and if it can be demonstrated to them that the whole body of the legal profession in their cities disapproves of certain things, they will be too solicitous of public favor to ignore the desires of an important section of the public.
In this survey of the opportunities of the lawyer for influencing public opinion, opportunities far greater than those of the equally noble sister profession of medicine, the one disturbing fact that stands out before all others is the menac ing power of a deteriorating, demoraliz ing public press, sowing seeds of folly, delusion, and misunderstanding through out the land. Perhaps the chief problem of the bar should be to subjugate this arch-enemy of human enlightenment and impress it into the service of the higher interests of humanity. We offer no suggestion how such an end may be rendered attainable. Apart from this one unpleasant factor, the opportunities of the lawyer to diffuse the light of intellectual progress are countless, and for that very reason it would be futile to attempt more than a cursory and incomplete enumeration. Both by ally ing themselves with other beneficent agencies and by working alone, both by coming before the people and through the quiet discharge of professional duty, lawyers have it in their power to do more, probably, than any other class of men, not even excepting journalists, to guide American society toward the goals of order, justice, and prudence. The bar is not a caste apart, but owes its virtues and defects to the society to which it belongs, and our bar is what it is today, is no better and no worse today, because it is the creature of American civilization. There are limits to the progress of any living organ ism beyond the bounds which nature has marked out for it. How far our American civilization may go can be evidenced by no more accurate index of its potentiality than the influence of an intelligent bar, and that this influence seems to be increasing is one of the mo6t hopefulsigns of the times.