Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy
Welcome everyone. We're going to get started. I'm David Schizer, the Dean of Columbia Law School. I'm here to moderate the panel, and our panel's title is, of course, "Is Overlawyering Overtaking Democracy?"
Now, as the moderator I get to ask questions, and I'm going to start with a question of the audience. My question is, aside from me, how many people here have seen Jerry Seinfeld's new animated movie, Bee Movie? I've a six-year-old daughter, which explains why I did – okay, a couple of people. For the rest of the audience's benefit, I should tell you the premise of the movie is that a bee – Jerry Seinfeld – a bee brings a lawsuit against the humans to keep them from taking the honey.
Quite amusingly, there are some unintended and very bad consequences of this lawsuit. But there's a line in the movie that I wanted to share with you because the bee has a co-counsel, and the co-counsel is a mosquito. And the mosquito in asserting that he is in fact a lawyer says, "Well, I already was a bloodsucking parasite, and all I needed was this briefcase." So, this taps into that popular perception that our profession does some harm, as well as some good. And the truth, as I'm sure we can all agree, about the good: Lawyers are obviously essential, will work for liberty. We also are important in ensuring economic growth. We police the separation of powers, enforce contracts.
David M. Schizer,
Litigation & Professional Responsibility: Is Overlawyering Overtaking Democracy?,
Geo. J. Legal Ethics
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/1014