Hereafter, for concision, I use the noun `leviathan' to mean a magisterial, mighty party that can retaliate against lawyers. I restrict this question to First World countries (e.g., the UK), which I assume can protect lawyers from such leviathans. Suppose:

  1. A commoner suffers an injustice at the hands of a leviathan, and wishes to take legal action.
  2. The threat posed by the leviathan, prevents the victim from finding a lawyer willing to represent his case.

What can this victim do? Does the law offer or guarantee him any assistance?

  • 3
    Haven't you read To Kill a Mockingbird? There's always a lawyer ready to step forward on principle when justice calls!
    – feetwet
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 22:28
  • 2
    @feetwet As I recall that book, Atticus Finch was appointed by the court to defend the guy. He did do it to the best of his ability, but he didn't exactly volunteer.
    – cpast
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 23:19
  • @feetwet I haven't, no. Please don't my minor edits following your helpful one.
    – user89
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 12:38
  • I am suggesting this be closed on the basis that it is an open-ended, hypothetical question: law.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask
    – Calchas
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 15:42
  • 2
    @Calchas: "Hypotheticals" is an open question in meta, and so far the opinions seem to be in favor of hypotheticals. Because this site is in early beta the current Help Center has not been tailored to it.
    – feetwet
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


There should be no more lawyers in an event such as that described by the OP. The Legal Profession, by its own constitution, exists to ensure that everybody can access our adversarial justice system through a diligent and competent advocate.

For example, among the responsibilities stipulated by the American Bar Association:

[A]ll lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel.

There are famous examples of lawyers, perhaps reluctantly and even at their personal peril, honoring their professional obligation to advocate in court on behalf of unpopular people and causes. One that comes to mind is John Adams defending the British soldiers who perpetrated the Boston Massacre.

Of course, lawyers are people too so I wouldn't be surprised if there are counterexamples. But there shouldn't be any counterexamples unless every last lawyer in a jurisdiction resigned his professional membership and hung his head in shame.

  • 5
    Well, a person's ability to find counsel is limited by (a) how hard they look and (b) the number of lawyers in the area. If you're in the middle of Nowhereville, Wisconsin, and you don't own a phone, it's down to the 2 lawyers in the town to assist you. They might have other cases and be unable to help, or unwilling. I'm not saying that's a common occurrence, but it doesn't seem as unlikely as you're painting it as being. I'm sure it happens from time to time. Any sentence which uses the word "should" is bound to be ignored by a significant percentage of readers. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 21:51

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