Lorenzo Dow, an evangelist of the last century, was on a preaching tour when he came to a small town one cold winter’s night. He entered the local general store to get some warmth, and saw the town’s lawyers gathered around the pot-bellied stove discussing the town’s business. Not one offered to allow Dow into the circle.
Dow told the men who he was, and that he had recently had a vision where he had been given a tour of Hell, much like the traveler in Dante‘s Inferno. When one of the lawyers asked him what he had seen, he replied, “Very much what I see here: all of the lawyers, gathered in the hottest place.”
If lawyers were to undertake no causes till they were sure they were just, a man might be precluded altogether from a trial of his claim, though, were it judicially examined, it might be found a very just claim.
~Samuel Johnson, Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides, August 15, 1773
There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief. Resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.
~Abraham Lincoln, memorandum for law lecture, 1850