Letter: Legal leeches

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your obituary of US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (26 January) quotes his mentor, Charles Hamilton Houston, who 'insisted that we be social engineers rather than lawyers'.

Houston, the grandson of slaves, is largely unknown today but was a pre-eminent legal educator who pioneered the idea of using the Constitution to promote racial justice. Houston's message to his law-school students, that there are only two kinds of lawyers, was actually more pointed. He said: 'A lawyer is either a social engineer or a parasite on society.'

Yours faithfully,


Institute of Judicial


University of Birmingham

Edgbaston, Birmingham

26 January