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The Forum > Article Comments > Beware the rule of lawyers! > Comments

Beware the rule of lawyers! : Comments

By Tim O'Dwyer, published 8/7/2010

Donít look now but gangs of muscle-jawed lawyers long ago left the law, took to politics, and have run the country for the past 14 years.

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I'm a lawyer myself and I share your concern.

First, I agree with you that lawyers have a very particular way of looking at the world which is not representative of the rest of the population.

Secondly, I'd distinguish between a lawyer who has practiced (particularly someone who is a litigator), because they are likely to have had a lot of interactions with people from all walks of life, compared someone who has gone straight into politics.

My friends and I have been discussing political apparatchiks - people who have treated politics as a career. This includes some of the lawyers in parliament, but also the former staff members of pollies, union hacks etc. I think these people get disconnected from the way the rest of the world thinks because they haven't lived in the real world for a long, long time.
Posted by Legal Eagle, Thursday, 8 July 2010 11:00:42 AM
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It could be far, far worse, if we had diplomats instead of lawyers.

Julia is a bad case, being a lawyer who has run in tandem with a diplomat, for a few years.
Posted by Leo Lane, Thursday, 8 July 2010 11:18:49 AM
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Lawyers tend to see problems as legal issues and therefore tend to see legislation/regulation as the solution. I'm not suggesting lawyer politicians are solely responsible for the spaghetti of laws that invade our daily lives. Bureaucrats tend to see regulation as the solution to so much as well. It's an irony that as we ordinary citizens become better educated and thereby better able to make reasoned decisions about a whole load of stuff, including our personal lives, the politician lawyers reduce our opportunity to do so by passing so many laws. If it's not a law, it'll be a regulation. If not that, a code of conduct. If not that, a protocol. And so on.
Posted by huonian, Thursday, 8 July 2010 3:51:11 PM
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As a lawyer myself I accept and to some extent share the concern - it is, after all, far from unique. It may well not be a good thing for our parliaments to be dominated by any particular segment of society.
That said, is it necessarily a problem? Like the author points out - it has always been this way more or less. Generally speaking we seem no worse for it. Or is it perhaps suggested that if we had more tradespeople, miners and factory workers in our parliament we would be much better off than we are now?
Posted by J S Mill, Thursday, 8 July 2010 5:07:19 PM
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Well I think one of our best Prime Ministers or is my favourite anyway, (though I wasn't around at the time) was Ben Chifley - an ex Train Driver, who apparently taught himself law. I myself have become so sick of blooming lawyers. But he was definitely a man of the people. He actually use to sit in a park and would listen and talk to people who had approached him. He lost his election for wanting to nationalise banks. What a good idea that would have been!
Posted by Constance, Thursday, 8 July 2010 8:59:11 PM
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<< Lawyers have traditionally been the largest professional sub-group not only in the federal cabinet but also in the parliamentÖ..a whopping 40 per cent of the whole legislature! >>

So then, why do we have a poor rule of law in this country??

Why are something like 50 000 visa overstayers allowed to continue breaching their visa conditions year after year, in an apparently permanent and politically condoned (or blind-eyed) breach of the law?

Why wasnít onshore asylum seeking just clamped right down on as soon as there was any sign of our border-protection laws being breached?

Why arenít speed limits policed at face value instead of a few kilometres over?

Why arenít Queensland nude beaches denudified, given that they are technically illegal?

Why isnít our national police force boosted so that they can properly administer the full gamut of the law, instead of being constantly stretched and unable to properly do the job?

In short, why havenít we got a much better rule of law if we are run by lawyers??
Posted by Ludwig, Friday, 9 July 2010 8:00:50 AM
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