Lawyers’ love of William Shakespeare is appropriate given that many of the lines from his renowned works are devoted to discussing jurisprudence. Shakespeare surveys the conditions of the law and the legal system more frequently than meets the eye. His works often ask, what is the rule of law? What is required for law or justice to succeed? At the Federal Bar Association’s Annual Meeting and Convention in Atlanta, Georgia September 14-16 attendees will relish a dramatic session that examines, through acting and a study of Shakespeare’s literature, the role of attorneys and the legitimate function of law. Register today at www.fedbar.org/FBACon17.

Shakespeare provides piercing legal insight in his plays, including the trials in the Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure. Shakespeare’s line “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” was spoken in Henry VI.  Dick the Butcher was a follower of the rebellious Jack Cade, who thought that if he disturbed law and order, he could become king. The line is habitually misinterpreted. Shakespeare meant it as a compliment to attorneys who instill justice and stability in society.

Juristic content pervades Shakespeare’s works. “Alas Poor Lawyers – Live Actors Present a Guided Dramatic Examination of the Public’s Perception of Lawyers Through the Lens of Shakespeare’s Plays” is a must-see, interactive session that will be held at the 2017 Annual Meeting and Convention. This creative, interdisciplinary experience includes contributions from eminent speakers in the fields of law, advocacy, ethics, English, history, and theatre.

Moderator Gregory R. Hanthorn (Jones Day); Lynsey Barron (Assistant U.S. Attorney); Laura Cole (Actor, The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse); Patricia G. Griffith (Ford Harrison); Hon. Thomas W. Thrash Jr., (Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia); and Jeffrey Watkins (Actor, The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse) are part of an electrifying program spotlighting the relationship between Shakespeare and the law. Utilizing the talents of Shakespearean actors, this program examines public perceptions of lawyers by using the lens of Shakespeare’s plays. The actors perform selected short scenes, and the panelists then explore, along with the audience, what the plays reveal about public perceptions of lawyers and how those perceptions can be improved.

“Alas Poor Lawyers” offers a range of approaches and much value for those interested in a variety of disciplines. Learning objectives include:

  • How ethical, professional behavior improves public perception of lawyers
  • Importance of lawyers and the rule of law in defending against anarchy
  • Ways legal obfuscation harm the public perception of lawyers
  • Need for clear, appropriate communications with clients
  • Role of the profession

The panel will hold court on September 14 to discuss the images of lawyers that Shakespeare’s plays convey. How close to — or far from — reality are those images? What are the consequences to the profession of the depiction of lawyers in Shakespeare’s works? Sign up on or before Friday, August 4, 2017 to take advantage of reduced registration rates using the early-bird special. To register, please go to www.fedbar.org/FBACon17.


Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.