The rights and liberties our ancestors fought and died for (civil rights, due process, and equal protection) are now, for the most part, given less thought than who doesn’t get a rose and is sent home on “The Bachelorette.”
More people know the “Beverly Hills Housewives” cast member names than the names of their state and U.S. Supreme Court Justices.
This lack of awareness and understanding isn’t OK, and I need to get this off my chest.
My name is Mitch Jackson, and I’ve been a lawyer for three decades. At this point in my life, being a lawyer is in my blood. It’s who I am and part of my soul.
There are many different kinds of lawyers, and I happen to be a trial lawyer. I’m proud of who I am, what I do, and it’s been an honor to represent the people I’ve had the pleasure of helping over the years.
Too many people spend too much time bashing the legal profession and trial lawyers. It’s gotten out of hand, and I needed to set the record straight– or rant a bit– depending on what you want to call it. Either way, I invite you to take a few minutes and think about what I share in the post.
I believe lawyers, especially trial lawyers, protect those who do not have the ability or resources to protect themselves. Trial lawyers keep the peace and make sure everyone plays by the rules. Lawyers are an indispensable part of a society and a group of professionals who work every day to try and make certain equality, fairness, and justice apply to everyone.
In a world where “alternative facts” have become the norm, and people think that research equates to a 15 minute Google or social media search, I felt like I needed to say something. When politicians put campaign financing and votes over their affirmative obligation to respect and support our Constitution, Separation of Powers, independent judicial system, and the free press, I need everyone to appreciate the following:
When a person or company, no matter how big or important, decides that the law doesn’t apply to what they’re doing, trial lawyers are there to hold that wrongdoer accountable.
What lawyers do matters. I genuinely believe that a good trial lawyer is the custodian of the community’s legal and ethical sense. We are not the enemy of people, business, or progress. In fact, we’re just the opposite.
We protect the rights and freedom of people and businesses and make sure quality products and safety always come first. We are the ally of business and the American dream.
The law and function of trial lawyers have changed over time. And that’s a good thing. Since the beginning of civilization, a common element of all people and societies is change. Trial lawyers and the law are no different. We need to continue to improve and revamp ourselves based upon prior conduct and the present and future needs of society.
Renovating and improving something special is always the preferred approach in America. It’s not always easy but is always necessary. Some call this the cycle of life. Even the Statute of liberty wore out after a hundred years. It needed to be refurbished. No big deal.
Along the same lines and over two centuries ago, a lawyer, Thomas Jefferson, helped pen the Declaration of Independence. Today it stands strong. It continues to be a landmark- a human progress of ideas, ideals, and values.
The Declaration of Independence, and for that matter, our Constitution, are living, breathing, and changing documents. Monuments much older than the Statute of Liberty and erected on paper rather than a cement foundation. These documents are indelibly etched in the minds of free people in a free society– or at least a society that strives to be free.
Most people on this planet believe equality and justice are primary concerns. Despite these common interests, the world has fallen short of making this happen.
People living in third-world countries controlled by dictatorships know this all too well. Many Americans don’t truly appreciate the rights and liberties they experience on a daily basis.
They take their liberty for granted. And that’s too bad.
Tragically, it seems that many Americans have become passive when it comes to protecting their liberty and justice. They take what some “talking head” says for granted, and they go along with the flow.
Based upon what I’m seeing and hearing almost daily, the average American doesn’t’ believe it is their duty to preserve the liberties that all of us enjoy. And I find that very sad.
Big insurance, corporations, and industry are taking advantage of this lack of effort. Lobbyists buy the votes of politicians. Many large corporations fabricate false and misleading information designed to take away or dilute your rights to a jury trial while promoting mandatory arbitration and artificially limiting money damages you or your family is entitled to because of their wrongdoing.
The average consumer does not appreciate that these entities are focused on placing their interest before your own and increasing shareholder wealth. They routinely place profits over people.
For some reason, lawyer bashing has become a peculiar and popular sport. Making fun of a group of professionals who have given the oath to protect your rights and liberties in exchange for a quick laugh by uninformed consumers is simply adding the wrong ingredient to society’s main course of fairness and justice. It’s not OK. In the end, the joke will be on the consumer who will wake up someday without laws protecting their fundamental rights and liberties.
Trial lawyers are the primary proponents of equality. When it comes to due process, they are the last line of defense.
I still believe that being a lawyer is a noble profession. Becoming a trial lawyer means becoming a member of a helping profession. Going about being a trial lawyer the right way means helping people effectively and with sensitivity. It means righting wrongs and protecting others. In today’s world, it means leading with empathy and letting compassion serve as our compass.
Most good trial lawyers regard themselves as being charged with the public trust and committed to strengthening our system of law, equality, and justice. I know I do.
Critics decry that in their opinion, if under your First Amendment Rights, you complain about a policy or law, then you’re not an American. They tell the public that if a person seeks redress for wrongs through our court system, then that person is wrong, and the system is broken.
I suggest these critics have it all wrong. It’s because of the people who stood tall and remained loud that all Americans have equal rights. It’s because of professionals, like trial lawyers, who said, “that’s enough” and took a case to trial, and then to the Supreme Court, that the law of the land was changed protecting minorities, women, and others.
Although he wasn’t a lawyer, I think the late John Lewis said it perfectly, “Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
Good lawyers speak up every single day. They make necessary good trouble to protect the rights of people who don’t have the ability or means to defend themselves.
Did you know that of all the legal filings in our civil courts, less than 4% involve people suing other people for harm caused by wrongful conduct? A majority of all civil filings involve one large company suing another large company.
Despite this fact, all you hear politicians yell and scream about is tort or medical malpractice reform. It’s ridiculous.
Big businesses make 96% of all filings. Why do big companies believe it is OK for them to use our legal system and not you? Why do politicians use the court system to protect their rights but tell you that it’s not OK for you to do the same?
My fellow trial lawyers and I have a big problem with this. You should too.
The fact of the matter is that the only protector of your individual rights against government and big corporations is the trial lawyer. Using our American legal and jury system, trial lawyers are the only people trained and able to protect the rights of the people. The courthouse is the place that allows everyone, including you, to stand tall and assert their constitutional rights.
Trial lawyers protect people from companies that put profits over people. Trial lawyers and local bar associations give the poor access to critical legal services.
Because of the efforts of trial lawyers, society is protected from governmental abuse and misguided criminal prosecution. Despite mandatory arbitration and artificial damage caps, consumers can still find justice and hold wrongdoing people and companies responsible for their illegal and harmful conduct.
Look around the world. Countries and regions that don’t share a due process type of legal system are in constant chaos—dictatorships, greed and wealth control economies, the quality of life, and who is prosecuted criminally. Rights and property are taken from people without any due process or other systems of checks and balances.
Young girls are taken from villages by criminals and sold for $12 as sex slaves. Innocent people are found “guilty” of a crime and executed with the wink of an eye. Human beings are tossed from the tops of buildings because of their sexual orientation.
If corporate American and big insurance had their way, they’d like to call all the shots and tell you what you can and can’t do. I can’t understand why people put up with their “I’m better and know more than you” attitude for the life of me. It’s not OK. With your encouragement and support, hardworking trial lawyers will never let this happen.
Trial lawyers know that there is no better legal system in the world than what we have in the United States of American. We know that in both the civil and criminal courts, the right to trial by jury is the one equalizer that allows a single person to hold the government accountable. With the help of a good trial lawyer, one voice can stop misguided corporations from selling dangerous products to innocent consumers. With the assistance of a good trial lawyer, someone wrongfully accused of a crime will not go to jail.
Politicians who want to limit your access to the courts have it all backward. Think about this for a moment. What do they want? Vengeance in the streets? Do politicians or big corporations know what’s best for you? Do they really make decisions with your best interest in mind? As I mentioned above, why is it OK for them to use our court system and not you?
From the very beginning of humanity, we’ve been told that justice is the most significant concern of all the people on earth. When legal rights and due process are taken away from the people, societies self-destruct and disappear.
Other professions erect buildings, build bridges, and design airplanes. When they fall, collapse, or crash, these same professionals get back to work and make improvements so that the buildings are stronger and safer, the bridges don’t collapse, and the plans fly further and faster.
Enduring paper monuments like the Constitution create and protect inspiration, truth, and justice. Without using stone, steel, or rock, lawyers built a system with a foundation around equality, truth, and justice. When something cracks and even fails, we don’t give up. What we do is work and rebuild to make things better. Trial lawyers are constantly in court trying to make things right.
When we talk about truth, justice, and the law, what are we talking about? Trial lawyers will tell you we’re talking about an authentic, reasonable, and accepted way for people to live together and settle their dispute without resorting to force. Today, almost everywhere we look around the world, we see wars and other atrocities caused mainly by the absence of laws and due process.
Because of trial lawyers and the jury trial system, we have a government of laws and not men. Trial lawyers created new laws in court without the help, and in many cases despite the roadblocks placed by the state and federal legislatures and congress. Juries have power and help fix the harm every single day across our country.
We have a free press. We have police restrained by due process. We have juries resolving conflicts. Yes, we still have a long ways to go, but we have a system that gives everyone the ability to come to court and seek change and accountability.
Think about it. Over the last 50 years, trial lawyers have created new laws through court cases that have made our country a better place. It wasn’t legislatures or politicians; it was the trial lawyers.
When the government refused to take action, trial lawyers tried cases resulting in segregation being stopped in schools. Trial lawyers brought claims and tried cases protecting your right to vote and resulting in unsafe products being banned from the marketplace. Trial lawyers have established laws protecting senior citizens and the disabled and preserving your right to education. Because of trial lawyers, discrimination is illegal. Also, because of trial lawyers, you have the right to legal counsel in criminal cases and are protected by the Miranda rule.
I think that in our lifetime, the most significant change trial lawyers have helped make in court is that of equality. Equality between the races and sexes. Equality between the rich and poor. And equality between the haves and have notes.
Yes, we still have a long way to go, but good trial lawyers will make sure equality for all happens despite all the constant and seemingly neverending efforts of the misguided.
Too many of the uninformed in today’s fast-paced world are brainwashed by political and big corporate media. For most people, if they hear something often enough and long enough, they start to believe it’s true.
Not only for those who allow their rights to be stripped from them one day at a time, but also sad for those who have become comfortable being sheep led around by a rope pulled by big government and corporate America.
In today’s world, when someone asserts his 5th amendment right not to talk to the police or testify at trial, people brand them as a criminal. It’s not right.
Justice Learned Hand long ago said, “Lawyers should have but one commandment. Thou shall not ration justice.” The result is that the public is better protected and served.
Your best interests should always come first. Not the best interest of politicians or big corporations.
While I have your attention, I’d like to add an additional thought to Justice Hand’s comment, and it’s as follows, “It’s not OK for politicians and big corporations to take justice away from citizens.” Whether you realize it or not, that’s what is happening in today’s world and on a daily basis.
The fact of the matter is that the trial lawyer is here to protect your rights, not take them away. The trial lawyer is your advocate and friend, not your enemy.
The trial lawyer and American legal system give people, who may not otherwise have a voice, the power to hold others, including wrongdoers, accountable for their improper and illegal actions. Despite all the propaganda constantly fed to Americans through advertising, marketing, and political rhetoric, the fact of the matter is that having a lawyer on your side is a very good thing.
I’m proud to be a trial lawyer and have the opportunity to protect the legal rights of people just like you.
Thank you for your time.