Engineers to the contrary, the three great professions are Medicine, Law, and Architecture. I had hoped to count myself among one of them but that day has gone like snow on water. In the developing Agincourt story, two have been considered, if not completely dealt with (Medicine and Architecture), but I’ve been ambivalent about the legal profession, having been burned once or twice. Characters like Sheriff Pyne, who enforce the law and have often done so with humanitarian concern for its ethical application, are more comfortable. Perhaps I’ve been overly influenced by attorneys who promote “religious liberty,” control of reproductive rights, and the right to bear arms. One of Agincourt’s public schools is named for Clarence Darrow, which should give you a sens of my loyalties.
Architecture has revealed itself to the community in the persons of Anson Tennant, the Sioux City office of Joachim & Perlmutter, and the brief on- and off-stage appearances of Bernard Maybeck, S.S. Beman, Lawrence Buck, and a few others. Medicine has almost uniformly taken the guise of Doc Adams from “Gunsmoke” or the equally admirable character in “Doctor Hudson’s Secret Journal” (an early TV series from a novel of the same name). I suppose it’s time for Law to show itself.
It seems we have misconstrued Shakespeare’s oft-quoted line about killing lawyers; so says a 1990 letter-to-the-editor of the New York Times:
In reference to the review of ”Guilty Conscience,” (May 20 ) Leah D. Frank is inaccurate when she states that when Shakespeare had one of his characters state ”Let’s kill all the lawyers,” it was the corrupt, unethical lawyers he was referring to. Shakespeare’s exact line ”The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” was stated by Dick the Butcher in ”Henry VI,” Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73. Dick the Butcher was a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, who thought that if he disturbed law and order, he could become king. Shakespeare meant it as a compliment to attorneys and judges who instill justice in society.
That instillment of justice in society — the odd-couple efforts, for example, of David Boies and Ted Olson to defend marriage equity — has been overshadowed in current political rhetoric by NOM and the American Family Association. Time to explore the binary pair “Justice and the Law” as one of my favorite figures of speech: syzygy, which would be worth a fortune in Scrabble™ were it not for the absence of a third “Y.”
Attorneys and architects have this one thing in common: Firm names are like tracing genealogy through the female line: a shifting series of surnames. [My favorite architectural firm of all time — not because they did excellent work, necessarily, but because the prospect of their receptionist answering the phone makes me smile — is Affleck, Desbarats, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold, & Sise. Say that three times fast.
So, who are Messrs Cable, Coomaraswamy and Bell and how came they to become associated in the practice of law? Answers to those questions will address the Truth of Shakespeare’s words from the mouth of Dick the Butcher.
[#800] Surely this is some sort of landmark worthy of celebration.