Hofstra Law Review
“Reputation ought to be the perpetual subject of my Thoughts, and Aim of my Behaviour. How shall I gain a Reputation! How shall I Spread an Opinion of myself as a Lawyer of distinguished Genius, Learning, and Virtue.” So wrote twenty-four-year-old John Adams in his diary in 1759. He had been a licensed lawyer for just three years at that time and had already believed himself to be hounded by “Petty foggers” and “dirty Dablers in the Law”—unlicensed attorneys who, Adams claimed, fomented vexatious litigation for the fees they might earn.
Adams believed his embrace of virtue, along with genius and learning, would gain him a good reputation among the people of Braintree, Massachusetts. That reputation would enable him to succeed in the practice of law. Just eleven years later, Adams represented both Captain Thomas Preston and the eight soldiers tried for murder in the Boston Massacre. Though a patriot supporting the cause of the colony of Massachusetts, Adams willingly defended servants of the British crown. Fellow patriots and opposing loyalists alike viewed suspiciously nearly every action Adams took in both trials.
Michael Ariens, Anti-Discrimination Ethics Rules and the Legal Profession, 50 Hofstra L. Rev. 501 (2022).