Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Samurai Lawyer is online!

Welcome to the Samurai-Lawyer Blog, part of my all-new online presence here at!  After a fairly long hiatus from the blogosphere, I am excited to once more assume the "bully pulpit" -- particularly given that current events have not taken a similar hiatus, and that the direction current events have taken is, well, unsettling.  I'm not going to subject my readers to a laundry list of topics I plan to expound upon; suffice it to say that I still have quite a bit to say.  Rather, I'd like to take this moment to talk about my own perceptions and experiences of what it means to be a samurai lawyer.

Being a warrior and being a lawyer are not so different.  Both must study if they wish to have the best chance of success.  Both test themselves against an adversary in the heat of the moment.  In the course of engaging their foe, both choose which techniques to employ, at which times, in the hope that they will strike a decisive blow.  The techniques that each uses in the course of battle, whether the lawyer's well-timed legal objection or the samurai's well-timed kesa giri, comprise each person's martial art, or bujutsu.  From bu, meaning "martial," and jutsu, meaning "art," bujutsu generally refers to the techniques used by a person in pursuit of a martial victory.

Budo asks the question of why we use our martial arts.  An experienced martial artist, like an experienced attorney, has a certain power in the right situation.  Should they choose to exercise their power, and should they choose an effective technique for that particular situation, they may be able to affect the outcome.  The outcome that would have occurred but for their action will never be.  Given that samurai and lawyer carry such power, it quickly becomes apparent that both must also know when not to use that power.  The lawyer must not make arguments which are illegal or unethical, even if he or she knows that they will win.  The samurai, likewise, should not dispatch a harmless drunk with his sword if a supportive arm will suffice.

Thus, it is imperative that one must have a budo, or "martial way." A true bujin, samurai or lawyer, knows intimately the scope of his or her bujutsu, and seeks each day to improve those skills.  However, bujin's "martial way" is what guides him or her in deciding whether to employ those skills, and why or for whom.  Budo is why the samurai risks his or her life to protect a defenseless child from a much greater foe.  Budo is also the reason why the lawyer stands firm and keeps objecting, even under threat of contempt, if it is necessary to preserve his or her client's rights on appeal.

This blog, and this website, are all about my own personal budo.  Welcome, and please enjoy.


ErikRoper said...

John, I'm diggin the concept and look forward to seeing more of your thoughts on this blog in the future. However, it occurs to me that you may want to revise this introductory piece to make it gender neutral. I realize there were no female samurai back in the day, but obviously there are female lawyers, some of whom you count as friends and may want to count as readers of your blog, too. Plus, I don't think the samurai principles you're describing could only be effectively practiced by men. So, in the interest of expanding your potential audience you may want to rethink the presentation on this a little. Or, not. It's your blog. Cheers!

Walter J. McMath III, Esq. said...


Thanks for your feedback! Gender-neutrality certainly intended (indeed, some of my best training comes from female sempai). I'll see if I can't clean that up.

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