In this week’s Barak Lurie Show Segment on AM870, Barak Lurie discusses why he went to law school – and more importantly why he did NOT go to law school. Spoiler alert: it’s about pursuing justice, not micromanaging regulations.
Separately, Barak talks about John Kerry’s and President Obama’s efforts to effectuate a deal with Iran and a peace between the Israelis and the Arabs. These guys never seem to learn: there is no diplomacy with dictators.
Justice. Justice You Shall Seek
I love the law. Well, at least the principals of the law. I don’t like how some lawyers have pursued regulation enforcement as an opportunity for themselves. It is antithetical to the purposes of the law, and not why any of us went to law school.
When I was a little kid, I recall asking my parents about a certain building downtown. “That's a courthouse," they told me, as we passed by.
"What's a courthouse?" I asked them. They explained: "it's a place where people go to resolve their problems, and a judge or jury decides who's right and who's wrong."
Strangely, this intrigued me: The very existence of a courthouse assumed that there would always be conflicts in the future. In fact, they built a very large and sturdy building (based on building codes and health codes and so on) with that very premise in mind. Conflict was part of life, and so was resolving it.
As I learned more about the law, I learned that it was supposed to be "blind." Justice was not supposed to care about whether you are rich or poor, a man or woman, how influential you were in society, the color of your skin, or anything like that.
That's the reason why lady justice (the one weighing the scales) wears a blindfold: she wasn't supposed to care about who was presenting the evidence, just what the evidence was.
I really liked that. It resonated for me, and realized I wanted to be part of that. It's not that I like arguing (you hear that among some lawyers; that they always want to prove themselves right and so on). For me, far from it: I like to reach resolution and peace. But justice was what it was all about for me. And when my parents told me that the Bible also demanded that we pursue justice as a holy thing, it became all the more meaningful.
So that is why I went into law school: to rectify wrongs where there has been a breach of contract, a breach of a duty of care, or fraud. To pursue Justice, with a capital “J.”
Now here is why I did NOT go to law school: To advance or enforce arbitrary regulations men created. That never made any sense to me.
For example: there is the American Disabilities Act, which serves the noble purpose of trying to help those who have disabilities to navigate their way in a world of difficult access. I get that.
But there are many lawyers whose entire focus was to enforce this law, by going to this or that shopping center or other business and checking out how far away the toilet paper roll is from the toilet (among other meaningless regulations). Even if the business owner has complied with the “spirit” of the law, it is all very mechanical, drowning in meaningless detail. If the employer is even 1 inch off, a plaintiff can hit him hard with very substantial damages.
I can't imagine that lawyers who do this can meaningfully say that this is why they went to law school. I really hope not.
Likewise, there is the Proposition 65 law. That's the law that tells you that you must have a placard in front of your building indicating that "this building is known to the state of California to contain chemicals and other substances known to be harmful." If you don't have it, there are very severe penalties. Strangely, any person can bring such a lawsuit against the building owner (not just a person who claims to suffer harm as a result).
I didn't go to law school for this reason, either.
It strikes me that Obamacare is also going to provide this sort of "full employment" opportunity for lawyers as well. Lawyers will enforce the most minute of regulations within that Act. In the meantime, nobody is really being helped -- other than the lawyers.
I hate saying that, but you have to be intellectually honest. The reality is that many of us have forgotten the very purpose of why we went to law school. It was to pursue justice, and only that. It was not for the sake of getting big payout opportunities from regulatory schemes and entitlements. All that is very foreign (and somewhat disgusting) to me.
The point is that many of us have forgotten our chief duty: to pursue justice. And I am not talking here about social justice, which I have come to believe means little more than the advancing of liberal ideology. "Social justice" can mean anything in the eye of the beholder, and assumes that "justice" is not sufficient somehow. They are simply wrong about that. Worse, it’s dangerous and assumes justice can always change. It shouldn’t.
There are far too many lawyers in California at this point in time. I wish each new applicant to law school would ask themselves why they want to go to law school. If they are doing it just to make money, I ask them not to do it. If they are doing it to advance an idea of "social" justice, they are only going to hurt themselves and not really advance society at all.
If they are doing it to advance justice, and only justice, I welcome them.
John Kerry, Iran, and Israel
John Kerry, our Secretary of State, has recently traveled to Iran and the Middle East, hoping to reach agreements with Iran to stop developing nuclear capabilities. We now know that he has failed in doing so. Indeed, Pres. Rouhani of Iran has recently laughed at the American effort in the agreement, letting the whole world know that they have fooled us, that they have gotten the "better" of us. They have made clear that they will be able to build their nuclear armaments as they please, while at the same time having extracted reduced sanctions.
Nice job, John Kerry.
Here's the fundamental flaw John Kerry and the Obama administration (as well as liberals in general) make when it comes to diplomacy: they don't understand from history that diplomacy has never worked with any dictator. That’s right: never.
We've talked about this before, but it is necessary to repeat: dictators don't engage in diplomatic "deals" unless there is a very serious threat of a force or debilitating sanctions against them. Period. That is precisely what happened in Reykjavík, Iceland, when Ronald Reagan refused to reduce America’s nuclear weapons during his "negotiating" with Gorbachev.
In fact, when he walked out the door, Gorbachev knew that this was going to be the end of the Soviet Union. And that's precisely what happened.
Remember this simple point: a dictator will honor his deal with you only so long as he wants to. After that, it is no longer a deal. We are seeing this time and time again during the Arab-Israeli peace "process," the recent Syrian "deal" to get rid of chemical weapons, in our negotiations with Russia, the negotiations with Saddam Hussein, Kim Il An of North Korea, and so on.
Yet we refuse to learn from these basic lessons of history. Diplomacy works only between democracies – – because democracies don't think in terms of power. They think only in terms of prosperity, and reaching the best results for all concerned.
Likewise in his recent trip to the Middle East, Kerry hoped that somehow he could force a peace between the Arabs and Israelis. Perhaps he will find just the right magic words that will get both sides rubbing their chins and realize that peace is better for them. Kind of like Jack and the magic beans that gave growth to the magic beanstalk.
But there are no magic words, Mr. Kerry. We are dealing with despotic countries that only understand power and operate solely to grow their power and authority.
Once we understand that, we might actually get somewhere.
I welcome your comments on this. Call me or write me at email@example.com.
Join me next week for more legal insight on the Barak Lurie Program. A Big Picture Look at Politics, Law and Issues that Matter. Every Sunday Morning at 10am on AM870.
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About Barak Lurie
Barak Lurie is the managing partner of the law firm Lurie & Associates located in Los Angeles, CA. Barak practices primarily in litigation, with an emphasis on business and real estate legal matters. Barak’s clients include businesses and individuals defending or pursuing claims for breach of contract, fraud and commercial disputes. He also has experience in bankruptcy work, representing creditors.
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