Very often we find ourselves nurturing anger and hostility against lawyers because we can't help ourselves from thinking that they defend criminals and the corrupt and ultimately, many a times, aid them to escape the clutches of law.
This video will perhaps clarify the notion of many, that lawyers do a great disservice to this country by choosing to defend the perceived corrupt / unpopular persons in Court. In this conversation, Mr. Ram Jethmalani, a lawyer who requires no endorsement of his excellence in the field of law, cites the very famous speech of Lord Erskine, perhaps one of the greatest legal minds that ever was, who went against his friends and family to defend Thomas Paine who had been charged with seditious libel after the publication of the second part of his Rights of Man. This speech was rendered by him during the trial. Erskine's speech is also remembered for a passage on the duty of barristers to take on even unpopular cases.
I'm quoting that speech of Lord Erskine which you'll find Mr. Jethmalani reiterating in this video.
"My name and character have been the topic of injurious reflection. And for what ? Only for not having shrunk from discharge of a duty which no personal advantage recommended, and which a thousand difficulties repent. But gentlemen (of the jury) I’ve no complain to make either against the printers of these libels nor even against their authors. The greater part of them ….may have believed that they were serving their country by rendering me the object of it’s suspicion and contempt and if there have been amongst them others, who are mixed in it from personal malice and unkindness, I thank God that I can forgive them also. Little indeed they know me who thought that such calumnies could influence my conduct. I will for ever, at all hazards, assert the dignity, independence, and integrity of the English Bar, without which impartial justice, the most valuable part of the English constitution, can have no existence. From the moment that any advocate can be permitted to say that he will not stand between the Crown and the subject arraigned in the court where he daily sits to practice, from that moment the liberties of England are at an end. If the advocate refuses to defend from what he may think of the charge or the defense, he assumes the character of the Judge nay before the hour of judgment and in proportion to the risk, rank and reputation puts the heavy influence of perhaps a mistaken opinion into the scale against the accused in whose favour the benevolent principle of English law makes all presumptions and which commands the very Judge to be his counsel."
To what does this principle owe its basis ? Well, it owes its basis to the "law". That law, which is nothing but legal enactments of our Parliament. And the will of the Parliament is nothing but the will of the people. It's the people of this country who through their representatives in the Parliament have created this principle that "no man will be condemned without being given a fair chance to defend himself". Therefore no matter what we may infer about the real motive behind why lawyers do what they do, this principle remains the bedrock on which it's justified.