Lawyers serve as elected officials
President’s Day has historically been a time for us as citizens of the United States to remember and celebrate the lives and achievements of former U.S. presidents. I am proud to note that 26 (more than half) of our presidents also served their communities and clients as lawyers, bringing their unique and valuable skill sets to the chief executive office.
Reflecting a bit more closer to home as this President’s Day approaches, I am particularly thankful for the lawyers of South Carolina who have held their hand up for service in all levels of public office. As officers of the court, lawyers work every day to uphold the Constitution of the United States. They play a crucial role in ensuring the rule of law prevails for citizens like you and me, a principle that sets us apart from many other countries around the world.
Lawyers also have a valuable role as public servants.
Not only do lawyers play an essential role in the protection of our individual rights, they were an asset to the historical formation of our nation’s democracy. Since John Adams’ appointment to the first Continental Congress in 1774, lawyers have been a staple in U.S. legislatures where they bring a number of strengths to the law-making process, including training in constitutional issues and the rule of law. Their legal education and instruction in oral advocacy are well suited to the job of helping the legislature craft our laws. Thirty-five of the 55 framers of the U.S. Constitution were lawyers, and today our Constitution is a model for democracy around the world.
I am proud that South Carolina lawyers are dedicated to advancing justice and ensuring the civil legal system is available to all South Carolina citizens. Many lawyers chose this profession because they believe in the American legal system and want to make a difference in the lives of those they represent. These are also valuable qualities of our elected officials, and 37 of our state’s lawyers were elected or re-elected to public service in the November 2014 general election. Lawyers serve South Carolinians as lieutenant governor, attorney general, U.S. congressmen, and state senators and representatives.
The legal profession has a long-standing tradition of public service, and the South Carolina Bar commends lawyers who aid their communities by serving in this capacity.
Cal Watson of Columbia is president of the South Carolina Bar. For more information go to www.scbar.org.
**Published in The Greenville News, February 9, 2015.