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Lawyers should represent the community

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To the editor:
So — it’s not enough that a member of our city council has to denounce the lawyers of Main Street as “shysters,” but then he has to go and apologize for it. Well, methinks that Mr. Evans doth now protest too much, that he should have stuck with his initial assessment, and that he deserves a certain measure of comeuppance for his apology.
We lawyers (whether on Main Street or Wall Street) have spent years — indeed, centuries — cultivating an aura of superiority and indeed invincibility for our profession. As everybody knows, Mr. Evans included, we like to think we run things.  For example, one has to be a lawyer to even participate in the judicial branch of government as anything other than a plaintiff, defendant or witness.  When it comes to the courts, we are about the only ones who gore an ox or have one gored, with seldom our own skin in the game.
As for the executive branch, we are again well represented. Our governor and president are both lawyers, although depending upon whom you believe, one or the other didn’t particularly care to be around the other at a recent gathering at Fort Campbell. This at a gathering of men and women much younger than them or me who have pledged to lay down their lives (and have too many times done so) for the government and Constitution with respect to which neither of them (nor I) have similarly pledged. Yes, I know they take an oath — as did I — to defend and uphold and all that, but our families are not the ones that fret at the sound of gunfire.
And then there’s the legislature — the Congress, the General Assembly, the fiscal court, the city council, the school board and other legislative bodies. Isn’t it a wonder that the closer you get to the people, the fewer lawyers there are in these positions?  We send a lot of lawyers to Washington and Frankfort, and look where that’s got us. While our state senator is a lawyer, my own opinion is that he’s too old to be able any longer to ignore common sense. Our state representative (not a lawyer that she’s admitted) is too young to worry about how she ought to act in Frankfort.
Then there are our local legislative bodies. Devoid of lawyers, all. And why do you think that is? Is it because we lawyers are too self important to seek those offices (or we can make more money and wield more influence elsewhere), or is it because when it comes to local issues, the voters in Lawrenceburg and Anderson County trust more those who are more like themselves: those who have more of a stake in what the law is than how it can be turned to a client’s advantage.
Which brings me back to Ken Evans. He is no Clarence Darrow or F. Lee Bailey.  He is instead a friend of mine and was a friend of my father, and I have enjoyed his reminiscences.  I have great regard for him and all of our other local legislators, and if you haven’t guessed by now, I take no offense at his comments. I suspect that he knows, as I do, that we have a vibrant and thriving legal community in Lawrenceburg. We have sages and youngsters; after almost 20 years, I consider myself somewhere between the two. I hope I have done my part to pass on to the latter what I have learned from the former.
We lawyers are an easy target, and the butt of many a joke (what do you call 10,000 dead lawyers? A good start). We don’t really mind the good natured ribbing of Councilman Evans and others, and we will endure far worse. But I believe that I speak for all of us when I say that our membership in the Main Street community continues a legacy of community leadership, and is far more important to us than any stereotypical slight we might receive in a letter to the editor. There will always be plenty of targets for good-natured scorn, lawyers and otherwise.
Councilman Evans ought to know that better than anyone. He’s a politician.

David P. Nutgrass
Lawrenceburg