What is a Good Lawyer?

What is a Good Lawyer?

The public must struggle with the question, “What is a good lawyer?” But, the challenge is not so difficult. Of course, special skills, training, and experience are definitive. But, these are drapes placed across the shoulders of something bigger.

Perhaps the answer to the question, “What is a good lawyer?” has been available since Quintillian, the famous Greek student of oration and a man reputed to be one of the world’s greatest public speakers, first offered this definition:

For my part, I have undertaken the task of molding the ideal orator, and as my first desire is that he should be a good man, I will return to those who have sounder opinions on the subject… The definition which best suits it real character is that which makes rhetoric the science of speaking well. For this definition includes all the virtues of oratory and the character of the orator as well, since no man can speak well who is not good himself.

Quintillian, In Studio Institutio Oratoria, 95 (Translation by H.E. Butler).

Quintillian’s wisdom cannot be improved upon. Bad people do not make good lawyers. In fact, bad people do not make much of anything good.

March, 2011