A Lawyer’s Sense of Self; What Can Sir Thomas More Teach a Georgia Lawyer?


Today we just wanted our readers to reflect on what it means to be a lawyer with integrity. I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who believed in me when I was a younger lawyer and I will save the lengthy discourse on the monumental merits of mentoring for another day, but he left me with some role models. One of which is a probably fictionalized depiction of King Henry VIII’s one time friend, Sir Thomas More. In Robert Bolt’s powerful play about the difficult decisions More made, “A Man for All Seasons”, he paints a lawyer for the ages. An honest and incorruptible Judge, a father, a husband and a very stubborn man. Bolt’s description of him reads to me as a eulogy that few of us can hope to totally achieve, but that we should strive for. Bolt wrote:

“Thomas More..knew where he began and left off, what area of himself he could yield to the encroachments of his enemies, and what to the encroachments of those he loved.” His description continues and i encourage you to seek it out as I cannot reproduce it here in full.

The play was turned into an excellent film about attorneys and human beings. As a man who loves God but has some serious issues with Church doctrines, I am torn. More’s decision to defy the King in compliance with God’s law is essential to the power of the story. In my rewrite however, More would turn that million candlewatt intellect on the doctrines of the Church that he followed and ask himself whether the Bible was the work of man or God. His failure to examine the architecture of the dogma upon which he stood is a bit of a failure in my eyes. That said I do not wish to de-sanctify the model lawyer More was, putting integrity before everything. Those of us before the bar can learn much from his example. Read about More on Wiki’s page but be sure to watch the film or see the play as well.

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