Gordon R. McKenzie



There is no finer example of an ideal lawyer than Atticus Finch the central figure in Harper Lee's classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird."

A widower, Finch, raises his two children in Alabama through the Great Depression. Like most families at that time, they are poor and occasionally the highly respected Finch gets paid in produce. He accepts these payments without question respecting his clients' dignity. By his words and conduct he upholds the goal of equality of people despite the ingrained racial hatred of the deep south.

Finch is appointed to defend Tom Robinson , an African American accused of beating and raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell at her family's home beside the town dump. Risking his personal safety to prevent Robinson's lynching, Finch proves at the trial that Robinson's lame right hand could not have caused the injuries to the right side of Mayella's face. In the climatic cross-examination of Mayella's white trash father, Bob Ewell, Finch shows that he was left- handed, by getting Ewell to prove that he could write. Ewell missed the trap, thinking Finch was trying to show up his lack of learning and hurls scorn on Finch unaware of the conclusion the packed court room has been led to.

While not alone among the townsfolk, the lawyer Finch is put at the head of those who believe that justice should not be determined by the colour of a man's skin; but while the jury thought long and hard, they still returned a verdict of guilty. While Finch had not overcome the ingrained intolerance, he did stand up for right.

Art reflects life, and like all walks of life there are the good and the bad in the legal profession. Harper Lee's Atticus Finch is an inspiration to lawyers and non-lawyers alike.

This article is presented as general information only and is not to be relied on as legal advice. You should contact your lawyer to see how the law applies to your circumstances before any action is taken.

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