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Advocates' Quarterly

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In preparing to speak at the recent conference on Ethics in Judging in Ottawa, sponsored by the National Judicial Institute, I was surprised to see references in Canadian articles and judicial opinions disparaging Henry Lord Brougham's famous quotation on the role of the advocate. Here is what Lord Brougham said in defending Queen Caroline at her trial in the House of Lords in 1821:

[A]n advocate, in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all the world, and that person is his client. To save that client by all means and expedients, and at all hazards and costs to other persons, and, amongst them, to himself, is his first and only duty; and in performing this duty he must not regard the alarm, the torments, he destruction which he may bring upon others. Separating the duty of a patriot from that of an advocate, he must go on reckless of the consequences, though it should be his unhappy fate to involve his country in confusion.

That statement inspired admiration at the time, and it continues to be the dominant standard of lawyerly excellence among lawyers in both Canada and the United States.



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