Harold Williams Law and Society

 Harold Williams Law and Society Article


almost eight: 30 L. M., MON, APRIL 23, 1979

" THE FUNCTION OF LAW IN SOC IETY" An Address by simply Harold Meters. ~lliamsJ Chief United States Investments and Exchange Commission

The Legal Help Society Servant of Justice Award Meal New York, Ny April twenty-three, 1979

Personally i think privileged to participa~e through this program honoring Whitney North Seymour. Whilst this is only the

Legal Aid Society's second Servant of Justice Honor dinner, I am certain that it will rapidly become portion of the venerable traditions of New York's legal and company communities. Just as the Culture itself comes over the years being recognized because of its sense of responsibility and commitment to community enhancement, this merit and its recognized recipients remind us that dedicated and inspired people -- whether in the public use or private sectors -- can make a big difference in improving the operations of justice and

in preserving the integrity of our institutions. When Mr. Seymour, and the first honoree, Ruben McCloy, are both lawyers, not necessarily for their proficiency in the regulation for which they can be honored, but rather for their admiration of the function of law in a healthful, democratic world. In discussing the function that attorneys play in our society, Grettle Redlich, Dean at Nyc University Rules School, has said:


" It is each of our burden and our wonder that we are expected to live by a high specialist standard and earn a living simultaneously. We do not have the luxury in the clergy who are able to live in the temple and condemn the market place. We need to carry the requirements of the serenidad into The market and practice our transact there. That is why a country which in turn questions the moral tendencies inevitably questions its legal professionals. " */ I would like to go over the " standards from the temple" that is certainly, the part of law itself, its relationship to values and moral and ethical patterns and its effect on the governmental process. We certainly have developed an inclination to view the " law" as a under the radar body of rules and regulations which will, by regulating conduct, guarantees justice plus the enhancement of morality. My own concern is the fact, as we change increasingly

towards the

" temple" of the legislation for solutions to social complications and as strategies for conduct, we offer less and less acknowledgement to any conceiving of values and values ~bove legislation. And

this is a trend which is unhealthy to get the law and then for society. It is unhealthy for two reasons. First, it tends to

relieve the person from responsibility for personal principles and carry out beyond that prescribed by law. Second, it places

. ~. / Redlich, " Lawyers, The Temple, and the Market Place, " in The Record, p. two hundred.


an encumbrance on the governmental

process to manage issues

which will would be more effectively resolved inside the private sector. In a number of my talks -- on this kind of matters as corporate accountability, regul~tion with the accounting job,

arid the introduction of the national market program -- I use dealt extensively with what I think to be the individual roles of presidency and the non-public sector in today's environment. Consequently , I will emphasis primarily on the

first point in my short remarks tonite. In my look at, a good measure of the health and strength of any society could possibly be read coming from a chart depicting two variables. Single line on the chart would indicate the level of values and ethical behavior. The 2nd line could reflect the conduct If the values and

to which what the law states compels devotedness. ethics range is substantially

higher than the law line

-- that is, once concepts of acceptable behavior are substantially higher than the criteria which the rules imposes In the event that, however , the

-- the society loves good meaning health.

gap between the two lines narrows, it demonstrates a greater addiction on the rules and a decline in moral vitality. In the United States today, I believe why these two lines are arriving much nearer together. More and more, we as

-4a contemporary society wrong, look for the law to...



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