10 April 2009

Law As Magic Revisited

I remain fascinated by the notion of law as the exercise of an outside source of power that doesn't reside in an individual that makes things otherwise impossible (or much more difficult) without invoking this power source happen. It is similar conceptually to the folk concept of magic, and sometimes just as arcane, mysterious and ritual driven as magic.

The anime/manga series Someday's Dreamers is a particularly fruitful way to make that comparison. The ethical rules for magic users in this otherwise contemporary Japanese world feel a lot like the ethical environment in which lawyers operate. In this world, magic can be used lawfully only by government licensed and supervised magic users, after consultation with a client based upon a confidential client request, and only for ethical ends conducted in an ethical way.

The big moral question of the anime series (all good fiction is ultimately about moral dilemmas), is not surprisingly also pertinent to lawyers. What is the point of using power to help someone if it may not solve the underlying problem or do any long term good? More deeply: Do clients know what is good for themselves? Are you more responsible for bad results that flow from doing what your client asks, by the book, as well as you are able to accomplish the task, without engaging in any sort of malpractice?

The heroine in the series struggles with these questions, and ultimately comes to term with her career choice. She decides that her passionate good intentions and fact that she is going her best validate her efforts, even if they don't always make things better in the end. Most lawyers reach the same conclusion. Those that don't solve the issue globally, at least convince themselves that their serving their clients well is not advancing something bad, even if others may be advancing something bad by serving the clients that those lawyers serve.

1 comment:

Curious Curandera said...

Wishing you a Happy Easter!