12 Pages

The Washington Lawyer: Some Musings

ByMax M. Kampelman

A prominent Washington attorney and active Democrat was warned by a Department of Justice official that his superiors in the Department were planning to bring a civil fraud action against him—and that the decision to do so was based on political rather than legal considerations. Politics is inescapably related to the practice of law. And Washington lawyers are even more preoccupied with the political process than are lawyers in other communities, including those in state capitals. The ethical standards of lawyers and of government officials must be and are higher than those in the rest of society. Our legal system may require some modification to bring within its adversarial framework representatives of interests previously neglected, but the adversary system need not be abandoned in order to better meet the needs of society. In most cases, the assumption is accurate and from the clash of interests and the resultant decisions or compromises, the truth emerges and justice is approximated.