Hug a lawyer
Well, maybe not literally, but pause for a moment and spare a thought for what they do. Lawyer bashing is obviously a popular pastime in the press and in the pub — until those who do the bashing need one themselves. But around the world, lawyers and other members of the legal profession are at the forefront of efforts to uphold human rights, combat corruption, and protect access to justice and fair and impartial court hearings. In many parts of the world, these lawyers (and their staff and families) risk intimidation, harassment, threats, smear campaigns, reprisals, assaults, torture, prosecution, imprisonment or even disappearance and death for doing their job. According to organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the situation is also getting worse rather than better in many parts of the world. So, since the event was launched in 2010 by a Foundation established in The Netherlands, 24 January of every year has become the ‘Day of the Endangered Lawyer’.
The event originally commemorated the murder on 24 January 1977 of four lawyers and a co—worker in Madrid during the transitional political period after Franco’s death in 1975. Four others were badly injured but survived the attack. Today, the event is a time to reflect on the personal and professional safety of lawyers and highlights their plight not only generally but also in a specific designated country every year (including recently Iran, Turkey, the Basque Country, Columbia, the Philippines, Honduras, China and Egypt) and is supported by the Law Society of England and Wales, the Bar Council and the American Bar Association amongst many other lawyers’ profession- al organisations worldwide.
An independent legal profession underpins political, social and economic stability. Lawyers must be allowed to carry out their professional duties without interference and should never be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes. Here in the UK, we have come to take a lot for granted and are very lucky for being able to do so but it is very easy to forget how important it is to uphold fundamental human rights and the rule of law and who strives to do so for you and for all of us every day.
Gregor Kleinknecht, Partner
Read the full article in Discover Germany’s March 2018 issue on page 96 here.