Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law
by DOUGLAS O. LINDER and NANCY LEVIT (Oxford University Press, 2013)

The Good Lawyer

About The Good Lawyer


Introductory Note

The Good Lawyer is Courageous

The Good Lawyer Values Others in the Legal Community

The Good Lawyer Uses Both Intuition and Deliberative Thinking

The Good Lawyer Thinks realistically About the Future

The Good Lawyer Serves the True Interests of Clients

The Good Lawyer Has Ample Willpower

The Good Lawyer is Persuasive

Seeking Quality


Random Facts

The Happy Lawyer

Excerpt from Chapter 3:
The Good Lawyer Has a Passion for Justice

            Representing Justice is one of the most unusual books about the law ever published. In it, Yale law professors Judith Resnick and Dennis Curtis consider the idea of justice, and how that idea has been represented in courthouses and plazas and art galleries from Australia to Zambia. Readers will discover images of courthouses of all sizes and styles, as well as dozens of images of Lady Justice, in a variety of poses and dress.....

            Of all the representations of justice Resnick and Curtis discovered in their far-ranging travels, one stood out in their minds as the most powerful. Before speaking on the subject of courthouse architecture at an Eighth Circuit conference in Minneapolis, the two professors traveled through the small northern Minnesota town of Grand Marais, hard by Lake Superior and just thirty-five miles from the Canadian border. Visiting the town’s courthouse on a hill, with its multi-story Ionic columns, they asked the first staffer they found, who turned out to be a probation officer, if any icons of justice were displayed. The probation officer immediately led them to the second-floor courtroom and pointed to a wall with a plaque and framed, well-worn, corduroy jacket. The jacket belonged to the county’s long-time public defender, James A. Sommerness. In his more than two decades of defending the poor, Sommerness —according to the judge who smoke at an informal ceremony honoring the public defender—“probably appeared in this courtroom thousands of times.” The judge described the lawyer as “a top-notch advocate” noted for his “professional kindness,” and said his work “was a good thing, a thing we should do as a community.” The plaque next to the jacket commended Sommerness for his commitment to the “human dignity of others” and his hard work in “improving and delivering volunteer legal assistance to the poor.” Resnick told a reporter for the New York Times, “We’ve seen a lot of representations of justice over the years, but that one will always be pretty hard to top.”

            Resnick and Curtis argue in their book that the ways in which governments choose to represent justice “provide windows into their aspirations.” Statues of Lady Justice gracing courthouses from sea to shining sea tells us that governments place importance on the idea of judges dispensing equal justice. The rarity of displays such as the corduroy jacket in a northern Minnesota courthouse honoring a defender of the poor should make us ask whether government, and society as a whole, values enough the idea of seeking justice for all, regardless of their station....