The Problem with John Edwards....
is not his politics, not his party, not his record. While I won't be voting for him and Kerry, I have no problem with his expressing himself on those issues, putting them out for the people to decide, and participating in a democracy. No, the problem with John Edwards is that tag they'll use every time he's mentioned, at least more than in passing of "TRIAL LAWYER."
The problem with "TRIAL LAWYERS" isn't who they are, isn't how they practice law, isn't their legislative efforts or united front as voters. I may not agree with their actions all the time, with their thoughts, beliefs, and ideas in full, but I'll defend the right of the individuals to express and hold those.
No, the problem with John Edwards is that people will be hearing the phrase "trial lawyer" not knowing it's been preempted by a very specific group of people, being the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and affiliated groups. The public will not know that by definition a voting member of the organization is described thus:
Regular Member is licensed to practice law and for the most part, based on caseload and time, represents the plaintiff in civil litigation or represents the defendant in criminal litigation. Has the right to vote and hold any office in the Association.The average person on the street might very well believe a lawyer who spends massive amounts of time in a courtroom defending suits brought by the "TRIAL LAWYERS" is a trial lawyer. WRONG! Well, they are trial lawyers, but they are not "TRIAL LAWYERS". A person walking along the street and having the District Attorney pointed out might well believe that person to be a trial lawyer. Well, in most jurisdictions, those where the District Attorney hasn't become somebody who just manages an office and doesn't litigate, that's right. A District Attorney is a trial lawyer. Even a judge could be considered a trial lawyer, but a person defending civil suits, a person prosecuting criminal cases, and a jurist hearing the whole story are not "TRIAL LAWYERS."
So, why does it matter? Well, the "TRIAL LAWYERS" are the people most liberal, most "hippy," most left wing. I'm describing some of my good friends, and I have no problem with their being that way. I simply have a problem with their legislative and political agenda bringing the scorn of the media and the general public on all lawyers because all lawyers are presumed to be "TRIAL LAWYERS". Heck, members of the public often think all lawyers are "TRIAL LAWYERS" even though lots of lawyers would hesitate to come to the courthouse in response to a subpoena, much less to work.
So, as you hear the rhetoric about John Edwards and "TRIAL LAWYERS" don't let that besmirch all lawyers in your opinion. Okay, there are people, including a very close spouse of mine, who think (or at least would say in jest) the reputation of lawyers can't be soiled in that it's already so muddy you can't see anything but the grime. Still, when you hear the word "TRIAL LAWYERS" in the next few months--and beyond--please hear "those people suing McDonald's, the tobacco companies, and industry and those standing beside the criminal defendant."