This article were originally published as the Editor's page in The Beverly Hills Bar Journal, during Mr. Shacter's tenure.


As we leave the year of our Constitutional bicentennial, and move into 1988, I would like to share with you an excerpt from the prologue of a recent best seller.

"The genius of American constitutionalism, which supports the rule of law, lies, first, in the Constitution which provides the opportunity for both change and continuity; second, in the method of judicial interpretation; and third, in the skill with which the generations of Justices, despite a few bad mistakes, have steered between the horns of their dilemma."

By contrast, with all of that said, and our lofty thoughts of the Constitution firmly in place, one commentator of the current legal scene has turned his attention to the rising divorce rate among lawyers and concluded that it is a symptom of what is going on with big-city law firms.

"Their fierce competition to attract clients, swallow smaller firms and open new offices at home and abroad . . . and their unlimited appetites for new graduates of the nation's better law schools. . . have all helped make the practice of law more of a hard-sell, bottom-line oriented business than an ethical calling whose members share at least some vague dedication to the cause of justice."

Of course, as with all matters, the truth lies somewhere between the lofty thoughts and the harsh realities as described by those authors. No attorney in our community who participates in bar association activities, charitable and philanthropic organizations, and community enterprises can fail to see the preponderance of lawyers on their boards of directors and working "in the trenches." The spill-over effect of these endeavors has both a measurable and an immeasurable dividend for our community. The ongoing concerns of the State Bar of California as both a public regulatory agency and as an association of lawyers often-time stem from the dichotomy of the practice of law as a profession which by its nature includes many attributes of a business.

In this issue, we see just how far-ranging are the concerns of lawyers, professional and otherwise. These concerns encompass such issues as growth of our cities, multicultural customs, our nation's youth, and major legal problems of foreign trade.

As befits a learned profession, lawyers are in the forefront of most societal concerns. They are uniquely suited to deal with legislation and judicially created rights and obligations. However, even beyond that, they assume leadership roles in our society disproportionate to their numbers. One can rightly feel proud of his membership in such a group, and stimulated to make such contributions in his or her own way.