It is no coincidence that the overwhelming majority of our legislators in the past have been lawyers. This trend is down according to the ABA Journal. However, you’d never be able to tell if you, like myself and many others, turn to the internet for the majority of our political info. It would seem that the career perfectly suits the elected official as their primary reason for existence is to deal with the creation of new laws and the maintenance of preexisting laws. But that doesn’t change the fact that much like any other career-path which requires a good amount of expensive schooling and subsequent apprenticeship, a pseudo-confraternity forms organically from its membership. There is no clubhouse or secret handshake but if you read enough political punditry you will see just how thick the walls of their ethereal compound is. A compound that exists to keep plebs like you and myself gratefully groveling for the legal table scraps thrown to us at the base of the walls from their ersatz ramparts. Like legislators, a great number of pundits are also lawyers. Firstly, I would like to point out that I am glad, somewhat, that they are. If a journalist (cough, cough) is going to critique and analyze our lawmakers and the laws they create and argue then I would prefer that they at least have an idea of what is or isn’t legal. Honestly, having an understanding of the law is a prerequisite to be taken even remotely politically seriously even in passing among friends. I don’t pretend to be a lawyer or know even half or a quarter as much as a lawyer knows about the intricacies of law. I don’t have to be to have legitimate opinions and questions of my elected officials and their policies and here is the kicker; neither do you or anyone else.
If you spend any time on Twitter and are even the least bit political, I am sure you have seen posts from some bloggers/pundits (again, a lot of whom are lawyers by trade) which were incredibly condescending. The lawyer-clique online is as every bit as ruthless, judgmental and obnoxious as [insert memory of group of unbearable assholes from high school] that you can bring to mind. Here is how the process works:
- Blogger-lawyer Tweets
- Followers retweet, favorite and sometimes reply
- Blogger-lawyer has decision to make: choose the most unhinged and questionable reply to original tweet and completely dismantle the person via quoted tweet and snarky retort OR find intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable reply and reply reasonably. (either choice leads to final product)
- IF the blogger lawyer has chosen the first option: other lawyers smell blood in the water and then post to pile onto the rube who is currently receiving a legal beat down, eventually original blogger lawyer and blogger lawyers who have joined the ratpack begin to discuss original tweet and ignore all other incoming tweets. IF the blogger lawyer has chosen the second option: other lawyers post to answer the question of the initial reply, even if it has already been answered because let’s face it, if a lawyer can’t spend their time telling people that they are lawyers then what is the point of becoming one? See; veganism. Eventually, blogger lawyer and other blogger lawyers and plain lawyers who have joined the fray begin discussing the question and ignore all other incoming tweets.
- Repeat process ad nauseam.
Seriously; the politisphere of Twitter is one enormous, juridical circle-jerk. Am I bitter? Do I sound bitter? Are you thinking; ‘this dude must have been burned by some hot-shot lawyer on twitter’? Well I am sorry to un-butter your biscuit but I haven’t. However, we have all been burned by legislators and that is enough for me and you to have important opinions on the law. I don’t care if a bunch of lawyers want to get together and talk shop on the internet. What I do care about; is the intricacies of law and its power over ALL of us should dictate that the experts in the law not be massive tools when questioned about it. Imagine if a doctor said something like this to a patient, “ummm yeah… no that’s not how your chemo is going to work, chief… but nice try. *eyeroll emoji*”. Yet when it comes to questions of the law we are spoken down to regularly by legislators and pundits. Why do we allow it? Randoms on twitter aren’t the clients of blogger-lawyers nor do the lawyers have the responsibility to answer anyone civilly or even answer anyone at all. But what a pundit-lawyer has over a doctor is the ability to be an opinion maker or changer if they have a large internet following. And that is dangerous. They need to take that shit seriously. However, most of them have at one time or another made the famous cop-out statement: I don’t ask anyone to read my stuff, I just write and people read it. What a cowardly way to shirk responsibility for any by-products or fallout of their musings. All done with an air of snark that would make Regina George cringe.
I think it would be super-swell if we as a society decided that we were tired of allowing lawyers to think and operate as if their political poopers didn’t stink. The first and most important step is to let them know that we will not allow them to walk on proverbial water around us anymore by not electing them anymore. Let’s run and elect people who actually have an idea of how the world works. An electrician, plumber, teacher etc. may not know too much about the intricacies of law but I bet they know how much a gallon of heating oil or gallon of milk costs and what it’s like to worry about bills. And maybe those are the kind of people we need making our policies these days. Far more than we need lawyers pontificating about them.