Eduardo Juan Couture – Lawyer's Ten Commandments
"Your duty is to fight for the Law, but the day that you find the Law in conflict with Justice, fight for Justice."
A tribute to Eduardo Juan Couture
A humble recovery of the great Uruguayan jurist's heritage and global contribution to Law, Lawyers. and society.
Eduardo Juan Couture (1904–1956)
This article is, at the same time, a tribute and reminder of the great Uruguayan jurist, Eduardo Juan Couture, born on May 24, 1904, in Montevideo – Uruguay (1904–1956), whose works, teachings and words keep to be timeless and invaluable to the Law, lawyers, and society. Yet, it may also apply to other professions or the common man.
Eduardo Couture taught at the University of the Republic of Uruguay from 1991 onwards. Couture founded his approach to legal procedures on the constitutional rights of individuals and authored several law textbooks.
Couture's "Lawyer's ten commandments" are a valuable guide for lawyers and their clients, as those are the traits that a client should find in a lawyer.
A lawyer who follows these ten commandments will grant you the best outcomes for you and your cases from a client's perspective.
Your duty is to fight for the Law, but the day that you find the Law in conflict with Justice, fight for Justice.
—Eduardo Juan Couture
We can say that there is no advocacy, but only a multitude of lawyers. Little known or very forgotten among many, a text by León and Antemio a Calícrates (Code, 2,7, 14) tells us how, yesterday as today is magistracy.
"The lawyers, who clarify the ambiguous facts of the cases, and who, by the efforts of their defense, frequently in public and private matters, raise the fallen cases and repair the broken ones.
They are beneficial to the human race, no less than if in battles and being wounded save their country and their descendants.
Shall we not believe, that in our empire, only those who fight with swords, shields, and breastplates, but also lawyers; because they militate as patrons of causes, who, confident in the strength of their glorious word, defend the hope in life, and the descendants of those who suffer. This is still the case today."
Law is Art and Politics, Ethics and Action
Law is, therefore, at the same time, art and politics, ethics, and action. As art, it has its rules; but these, like all the rules of art, are not absolute but are left to the inexhaustible creative ability of man. The lawyer is crafted for the Law and not the Law for the lawyer. Art - the handling of laws - is based on the exquisite dignity of the matter entrusted to the artist's hands.
As a policy, the legal profession is the discipline of freedom within the order. The conflict between the real and ideal, between freedom and authority, the individual and the power, constitutes every day's topic in lawyers' job.
The 10 Commandments
And finally, we leave you with a summarized version of Eduardo Juan Couture's Lawyer's ten commandments:
- 1. STUDY—Law is constantly changing. If you do not follow its footsteps, you will be a little less of a Lawyer every day.
- 2. THINK—Law is learned by studying, but it is exercised by thinking.
- 3. WORK—Advocacy is hard work at the service of Justice.
- 4. FIGHT—Your duty is to fight for the Law, but the day that you find the Law in conflict with Justice, fight for Justice.
- 5. FIGHT—Loyal to your client, whom you should not abandon until you understand that he is unworthy of you. Loyal to the opponent, even when he is disloyal to you. Loyal to the judge, who ignores the facts and must trust what you tell him, and that, as for the Law, from time to time, he must trust the one you invoke.
- 6. FIGHT—Tolerate other people's truth in the same measure that you want yours to be tolerated.
- 7. BE PATIENT—Time takes revenge on things that happen without their collaboration.
- 8. HAVE FAITH—Have faith in the Law, as being the best instrument for human coexistence; in Justice, as the normal destination for Law; in peace, as a kind substitute for Justice; and above all, have faith in freedom, without which there is no Law, Justice or peace.
- 9. FORGET—Law is a fight of passions. If you go into battle carrying your soul with rancor, there will come one in which life will become impossible for you. After the combat, let go of your victory as fast as your defeat.
- 10. LOVE YOUR PROFESSION—Try to consider Law in such a way that the day your son asks you for advice about his future, you find it an honor to recommend him to become a lawyer.
These Commandments deliberately leave the separation line between what is real and what is ideal, what is, and what it's desired to be.
The lawyer is seen here, a bit like how life appears to be and a bit as to how the illusion is represented. In any case, he appears just as the author would like to be, the day when he could overcome all those earthly powers that hinder his daily struggle, the acquisition of a complete form of his art.
Yet, the imprecision of the borderline, which separates the presence from essence, the acquired from the desired acquisition, is subject to all desired Meta. Meta is, in its Latin and Greek meanings, successively, the end of a career and the afterlife.
For this reason, in life, we will never know, to what extent, if the conquest is an end or a new beginning and under what profound reasons, in the superior manifestations of the legal profession, there is no other arrival than the one that leaves the paths of good and virtue open indefinitely before us.
That is, in short, in its last term, the victory of the ideal over the real.