As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we are blessed to enjoy freedoms that many can only dream about. Why are we so fortunate? Because we live in a nation under the “rule of law” rather than the “rule of men,” thanks to the wisdom and foresight of our Founders‚ many of whom were trial lawyers.
In his book The Founding Lawyers and America’s Quest for Justice, Stuart M. Speiser discusses the pivotal role of “American lawyers in conceiving, initiating, and executing the plan for an entirely new form of government, which they called a Government of Laws.” Speiser argues that the legal training and mindset of men such as James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were the sine qua non of our Constitution.
But Speiser goes further. He declares that despite other nations’ scorn of our “lawyer-dominated” society, the United States is the only nation “whose legal system provides access for the great majority of its citizens, regardless of their wealth/poverty and prominence/obscurity.” He convincingly demonstrates that even in other democracies purporting to follow the Rule of Law, the middle class is denied access to civil justice through government-imposed barriers such as the Loser Pays rule, prohibitive filing fees, and prohibition of contingency fee arrangements for legal representation. Speiser’s fascinating and persuasive work is a wonderful reminder that we have much for which to be thankful.
Through mock trial participation, high school students have the opportunity to experience first-hand the Rule of Law and our trial-by-jury system. Each year, more than 600 N.C. students and their families gain an appreciation for the vital role played by lawyers in maintaining our freedoms and liberties even today.
Students also gain a deeper understanding of their rights and responsibilities as citizens, thanks to the investment of teachers and attorneys who serve as team advisors. Reinforcing this important lesson, North Carolina Representative Rick Glazier exhorted participants at our 2013 State Finals to invest in serving their communities. Rick closed his inspiring presentation by reminding the audience of the contributions of trial lawyers throughout our nation’s history (watch Rick’s Friday night address to students and families at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFRtC5UDEvU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kghLI88rCHI).
As you count your blessings with family and friends this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to appreciate our U.S. Constitution and the trial lawyers who created, and continue to support, it as the foundation for our Government of Laws.