1993-07-07 - Re: “Let’s kill all the lawyers…”

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From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 76b6e0436721048e2cf5d826fec5d004a4bd30b0ee96881646414ae43fcfc408
Message ID: <9307070156.AA16144@netcom3.netcom.com>
Reply To: <93Jul6.183147pdt.14190-3@well.sf.ca.us>
UTC Datetime: 1993-07-07 01:55:34 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 6 Jul 93 18:55:34 PDT

Raw message

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 93 18:55:34 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re:  "Let's kill all the lawyers..."
In-Reply-To: <93Jul6.183147pdt.14190-3@well.sf.ca.us>
Message-ID: <9307070156.AA16144@netcom3.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Fred Heutte comments:

> Tim May and Phil Karn's comments remind me of my friend Mark the Lawyer
> who lives in SF.  I visit him on occasion when I'm in the Bay Area and
> notice that he has the proper perspective on things.  When I was there
> a week ago he had a copy of the Nolo Press newspaper (including a hefty
> selection of their vast catalogue of lawyer jokes).  And his refrigerator
> magnet reads: "Lawyer: person retained to protect client from others of
> profession."
> We need lawyers, but do we need *so many*?!  I was born and grew up
> in Washington, DC.  The DC Bar has over *50,000* lawyers!  Even in
> our nation's capital that seems excessive.

I don't really think of lawyers as the problem, per se, nor do I think
there are too many GIVEN WHAT THE LAW HAS BECOME.

Seems to me folks have gotten what they asked for. The asked for more
regulation, they got it. The asked to be protected from the contracts
they signed (that is, to find ways to get out of contracts they no
longer liked), they got it. They asked for easier divorce, they got
it. They asked to be able to sue for nearly anything bad that happens
to them, they got it.

All of these things increase the business of lawyers, as business is
no longer done on a handshake, property has to be divided up with the
easier divorces, and so on. If you think about it, the reason for the
surge in lawyers is clear.

What, if anything, can be done? Here are several suggestions:

1. Return the sanctity of the contract. If parties sign a contract,
then unless there is provable fraud, the contract is valid. No
wiggling out claiming "diminished capacity" (if you're diminished,
hire someone to handle your affairs), claims of "not understanding,"
or claims that the contract itself was coercion, racist, unfair,

2. Eliminate public funding of court proceedings. Eliminate things
like the "Legal Aid Society" that subsidize court proceeding against
landlords and property owners (as but one example).

3. Loser pays all court costs, and perhaps damages for bringing the
suit, if the suit was clearly unfounded. (A murky area, I'll grant
you, but other countries have tried it and it cuts down on frivolous
"I'll sue!" types of suits.)

4. In divorce cases, adopt a system in advance of the wedding clearly
stating the terms and conditions under which property, kids, etc., are
to be doled out. Oh, and by Point #1, the sanctity of Pre-Nuptial
Agreements is ironclad...no wiggling out by hiring lawyers.

5. Ultimately, privatize the court system. Bruce Benson, in "The
Enterprise of Law," describes how this might work. (I won't debate it
here in this group.)

Obligatory Link to Cypherpunk Ideas: Many of these reforms are likely
in cyberspace, where contracts will be contracts....with money placed
in escrow with anonymous escrow services and only fairly simple
adjudication and arbitration of the "facts," not the "intents."

(Read Vinge's "True Names" for one vision of crypto anarchy and then
try to imagine how the lawyers will ply their trade in such an

-Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
tcmay@netcom.com       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
Note: I put time and money into writing this posting. I hope you enjoy it.