No Comment, Quotation — February 27, 2010, 6:38 pm

Dr. Johnson–Dishonesty and the Craft of Lawyers

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“But, Sir, does not affecting a warmth when you have no warmth, and appearing to be clearly of one opinion when you are in reality of another opinion, does not such dissimulation impair one’s honesty? Is there not some danger that a lawyer may put on the same mask in common life, in the intercourse with friends?” Johnson: Why no, Sir. Every body knows you are paid for affecting warmth for your client; and it is, therefore, properly no dissimulation: the moment you come from the bar you resume your usual behaviour. Sir, a man will no more carry the artifice of the bar into the common intercourse of society, than a man who is paid for tumbling upon his hands will continue to tumble upon his hands when he should walk on his feet.”

James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, p. 245 (1791)


With the OPR reports and vanishing emails, this week has shown the public the decidedly dark side of the legal world. There is no better music to accompany this than Franz Schubert’s terzet “The Lawyers” (“Die Advokaten”), DV 37 (1812), in which we learn, among other things, that “paying fees is the client’s first duty.” Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, Horst Laubenthal and Peter Schreier perform this version:

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Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

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