The single most important lesson I learned when studying the pathologies of communist nations (my life, 1980-1994) was just how critical NGOs (non-governmental organizations) were: Strong, independent sources of moral authority that could check and criticize powerful governments. I know few see lawyers in that role anymore. I’m not one of that few. In my view, lawyers have a critical role in protecting the rule of law — not just technically, but ethically, and culturally. It is our job to remind a nation of the ideals that underly a rule of law state.
It was with great pride then that I watched this fantastic talk by the new ABA President, William Neukom. I’ve had my disagreements with Mr. Neukom in the past. But there’s nothing in this talk that I disagree with, and there’s everything to praise. Watch especially the Q&A. And especially especially the answer about access to the legal system by the poor.