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'The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers': the Defence presents…

'The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers': the Defence presents…

27th February 2015


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So you think you don’t need us? You think us expendable? You think us of such an annoyance to be summarily executable? Well, before you rush off to ready the gallows, sharpen the guillotine or arm the electric chair... hear me out. In the spirit of audi alteram partem, let the other side be heard.

Ladies and gentlespoons of the jury, we have heard from the prosecutor that lawyers are scum; lawyers are liars, bottom feeding leeches spreading acrimony and disorder amongst a peaceful people. What use do they serve other than their own ends?  Charging like wounded buffalos and making mountainous matters out of molehillian maladies. Feasting on discord and distress, accident and injury. Do not be swayed by this hyperbolic rhetoric. The prosecutor is attempting to play on your emotions, blind you with your own misdirected rage. You are angry and so you should be. But should that anger be directed at lawyers? I think not. 


In the little time I have, I will attempt to persuade you that we should spare the lawyers their lives and in doing so you will spare your own livelihoods, for the very fabric of our society depends upon their existence.

In order to do this I will require a smattering of imagination so step into my time-portal and let us travel back to a place before “society”. An anarchic time where disorder reigned and brute force was the only governing principle and determinant of survival. A time when life, in Hobbesian terms, was “nasty brutish and short.” 


Fortunately for us sitting here today, the human race embarked on a much grander more egalitarian project that has ensured the survival and, moreover, the flourishing of the species.

Social creatures by necessity, we formed collectives: communities of hunters and gathers, warriors and wordsmiths.  A gradual process of collectivism grew from family units into tribes. Customs emerged, practices became entrenched and commonly enforced for harmonious in-group living. In short, we entered into a “social contract”, a form of unspoken agreement within common groups. Rules were simple and simply enforced. Rights were few and basic. As we evolved more complex social structures and means of communication the rules and their means of enforcement too became more complex. Some idea of law began to take shape. What is law but a collective term for society’s rules for harmonious living?

After thousands of years of social evolution, we have reached a point where the sticky web of the law expands in intricate lacework detail to cover almost every imaginable aspect of life from pre-conception to post-mortem.  The very fabric of society is that web of written rules for harmonious living. And yes, it may be a little frayed around the edges, and yes, sometimes one gets entangled in its sticky strands.

But ladies and jellyspoons, ask yourselves: who mends the frayed edges? Who disentangles one from the sticky strands? Who wove the web in the first place? Lawyers.

But do not think of yourselves as flies and us as hungry spiders. The web is not a trap, it is a safety net hanging over a pre-societal “nasty brutish and short” life of pain, anguish and discord. So when you retire to your chambers to deliberate on our fate, remember that the fate of life as you know it is in your hands….choose wisely.

Written by Patrick Wainwright, BKM Attorneys


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