Legal matters in business and society as a whole has changed greatly over the past couple of decades; and not necessarily for the better. Between attorneys wanting to make a buck at any cost, and business owners losing their diplomacy skills in exchange for resenting and milking others who they think have wronged them, the need for legal services has exploded in the United States (U. S. ). At the dawn of the 21st century, law is as important in society and business as is marketing, advertising and experienced employees.
Function and role of law in business and society. Originally, the function of law in business and society was a plus. America developed, arguably, the best legal system in the world. This system was based off of righting wrongs. For criminal law, rehabilitation for juveniles, and punishment and reparation for adults is/was the main goal. In civil law, putting the plaintiff in the same position had the plaintiff not been wronged is/was the goal. Modernly, much has been adulterated. First, regarding the motives of attorney’s, modernly, things have changed.
A marvelous and historic thing happened when women’s rights, and rights for minorities were addressed and corrected. But then, something changed. Technology has advanced more in the past 40 years than in the entire recorded history of man kind. This advancement has enabled those countries that are more advanced and who enjoy the freedoms of a representative democracy, to be freed up from having to struggle day by day to survive. The result of this blessing, unfortunately, for the less integrity-filled persons, is that many less-savory individuals have scouted about to find ways to get more money at all costs.
Hence, we have ambulance chasers and attorneys who have actually been hired on in house for various business to handle all of their probable law suits that will occur during the course of every day business transactions. The biggest problem is this: Many attorneys offer their services to others knowing that their opposition will chose to pay on a settlement rather than pay the full costs of litigation which can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (most legal firms receive at least one third of the settlements won). So where is the justice?
Attorneys are the doctors of business and interactions between people. Just as doctors are entrusted with the high honor of healing the sick, attorneys are entrusted with righting the wrongs of society. Where did we go wrong.? In the world of the physician, the goal is clear: heal the sick. Yes there has been gray areas where doctor cross the line concerning the oath they have taken to do no harm (like abortion, especially ate term and partial birth abortions). In architecture, build stuff. In accounting, balance the books.
But in law, although the goal is supposed to be justice for the harmed, the lure of money and power has warped the once admirable goal. Now, attorneys are the butt of jokes, and likened to sharks. For those practitioners of law who retain the dignity, integrity and honor of the profession, their services can be monumental. For example, it takes the threat of being sued to keep many businesses on the straight and narrow. The makers of Pinto cars comes to mind. The Pinto case, Grimshaw v Ford Motor Company, 119 Cal. App. 3d 757 is notorious for just how far companies will go to make a buck.
If the law had not been involved, many more people would have been victims of the makers of Pintos. The case went something like this: Pinto cars were bursting into flames on impact, like in a crash, etc. Many people were getting severely burned and burned alive. Pinto knew of the problem with their car, but calculated the cost of revamping the car to the cost of settlements in cases where their were injuries and deaths. They estimated how many Pintos per year would explode and figured that number into the calculation.
They came to the conclusion that it was more costly to fix the Pinto than it was to pay out settlements. After all, a Pinto was an inexpensive car, which meant that most people who bought them did not have a lot of money. Hence, they would not be able to go through a long and arduous law suit because of the cost of legal services. Incidentally, it turns out that the “cost/benefit analysis” that Ford submitted to the government was entirely bogus: the cost of fixing each car was not $11, but merely one dollar (Dowie, 1977). It took the law to right this horrendous wrong.
The same positive function of the law in society can be found in the case from the case given for reading, Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc. , 505 U. S. 504 (1992). This was also a Supreme Court case where the court held that the warning on the box of cigarettes did not preclude suit by smokers against tobacco companies. Here, the function of the law in the tobacco business acted to keep businesses in check, and let them know that even though they have a lot of money, and even though they had a huge, successful business, they were not protected from all of their actions by simply placing a label on the box that read:
WARNING: THE SURGEON GENERAL HAS DETERMINED THAT CIGARETTE SMOKING IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH. The role of the Law keeps big businesses from freezing out the little guy. The holdings in Pinto and Cipollone reflect that. Functions and role of law in your past or present job or industry. The function of law in my past employment was paramount. Actually its purpose was two-fold. I worked in the restaurant industry. We needed to retain an attorney at all times to make sure all regulations (OSHA requirements, for example) were met, and to be available if any customers or employees sued the restaurant.
The restaurant was run by individuals with great integrity and honesty, and hired only the best of employees. Hence, the retention of the attorney was really to protect the restaurant from unsavory individuals who sue anyone just to make a buck. The legal system can do so much good. It is a pity that it takes the law, or better, the fear of legal action to keep others in check. But we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. As stated above, it can do such good; but it can also do much harm.
From a human rights perspective, Ford disregarded the injured individual’s rights and therefore, in making the decision not to make adjustments to the fuel system, acted unethically. (Birsch, 159). From a business perspective, Cipollone tobacco case ensured the little guy that they do have a path for retribution, and that path can not be taken away by big business. In working in the restaurant business, the function of the law acted as our guardian. Although many practitioners have gone astray, the legal field will always be an integral part of ensuring for every citizen the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Case Analysis: Pinto Fires.” (20 May 2012).
Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U.S. 504 (1992).
Christopher Leggett (1999), Ford Pinto Case: The Valuation of Life as it Applies to the Negligence-Efficientcy Argument, Law & Valuation.
Douglas Birsch, (1994), The Pinto Controversy. Retrieved from: http://www.sunypress.edu/p-1995-the-ford-pinto-case.aspx
Grimshaw v Ford Motor Company, 119 Cal. App.3d 757.
Mark Dowie, (1977) Pinto Madness, MotherJones, Retrieved from: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness