Hallowe’en is here! Time for jack o’ lanterns, apple cider and the annual costume day at the office. Time to pull out your favorite costume: Justice!
Artwork courtesy of Giovanni Benedetti
Best costume ever! You will be resplendent in flowing robes; outfit complemented with matching blindfold, double-edged sword, and scales of justice. When dressed as Justice however, you must behave. Especially take note of how you move. She may look glamorous, but her everyday attire comes with real challenges.
Everyone knows you cannot hurry Justice. She may appear to be quick, sure, and righteous on the silver screen - slicing through thorny legal issues with drama, panache, and above all, speed. In reality, Lady Law moves at a more measured pace. (One could say she puts the deliberate in delibera̅te.) But, can you blame her? Haste is not a virtue. I would like to posit that she has good reasons for her slow pace. Take a long look at your costume for a few clues to her well-modulated steps.
Most obvious impediment, the blindfold. Justice is blind. This helps her to be impartial, yes. But quick? Not so much. What does she have to guide her through the darkness? A seeing eye dog? A white cane to help her move with confidence? No - no cane, no dog - instead, Justice carries a sword. And not just any sword – a double-edged sword. One false step could mean death. (Maybe this isn’t the best costume for the office after all?)
Furthermore, Justice is not dressed for speed. Moving swiftly in all that flowing material? Very tricky. It should come as no surprise that she moves with care. (Refer back to consequences of false step with double-edged sword.)
In addition, she holds aloft a set of scales - scales she must keep balanced at all times – forever and ever. In addition, (and probably not a part of your costume, but bear with me) there will be those who jockey for position at her feet, - politicians, pundits, and paparazzi - offering to ‘help hold her scales.’ If she takes even a teensy moment of well-deserved rest, there they are. Waiting. And honestly, some of them would rather tip the scales than hold them steady. If she needs a little time to rest her arm (or to swat away those pesky ‘helpers’), who are we to deny her?
One big plus, your costume does not include earplugs. Justice can hear. Without distraction of sight, her powers of concentration are needle sharp. But aural acuity adds no speed to due process. Instead, the act of listening provides the sweet balm of relief from endless days of limited mobility and silent darkness. For Justice, every lawsuit is a story. What incentive has she to hurry along the drama inherent in every legal matter? If only to keep her sanity, she necessarily takes time to hear and mull over every detail of every case.
When Hallowe’en has passed and you have packed away your costume, remember the day you spent in Justice’s world and take your insights about her to heart. Counsel yourself and your clients to be patient. Breathe in, breathe out. And give a thought to Justice. Wielding a sword, balancing scales, patiently listening? All while blindfolded? It’s not as easy as she makes it look.
“Justice, though moving with tardy pace, has seldom failed to overtake the wicked in their flight.” (Horace)
Barbara Reedy is part of the front office team at McManis Faulkner. She is the first point of contact for clients, vendors, and attorneys who have business with the firm. For more information, please visit mcmanislaw.com.