To become a lawyer in my state, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree. Then you attend law school for 3-4 years to receive a juris doctorate. (and the pretentious title of “Esquire” that only the pretentious use.) Take the bar, pass the character/fitness committee and you are licensed to practice law.
There is no further specialization. My license allows me to appear in Immigration Court, or Tax Court. I can practice in the field of family law, criminal law, personal injury, transactional law. You name it--my license “allows” me to practice that type of law.
Realistically what happens is that after law school you obtain a job and eventually narrow your focus. You become a divorce lawyer. Or a criminal lawyer. Or a personal injury lawyer. Frankly, I have absolutely no business dispensing tax advice, as I have no knowledge in the field. We see, on occasion, a lawyer attempt to go outside his/her field. They may be a personal injury lawyer, and decide to help a family member out for a criminal matter. Generally they make a complete balls-up of it, since they don’t know what they are doing. If I was giving tax advice or patent advice, I would likewise screw it up—I don’t know those areas of law.
I do, however, happen to know Landlord/Tenant law. I have represented Landlords, Tenants, and sat as a Case Evaluator and Arbitrator in Landlord/Tenant disputes. I have performed numerous jury trials, even more judge-trials and countless hearings within this area of law. All over the course of the past 15 years or so. I have practiced in almost every jurisdiction within 100 miles of my office.
A few years ago, I was at a family affair when a relative-in-law piped up with a statement regarding a Landlord’s legal obligation. Thinking she would actually be helped by understanding the nature of the law, and a few points she was in error, I politely stated what the law was.
I, of course, was wrong. Not only wrong in thinking she may be interested in the law, but quite terribly wrong in what the law was. She went on and on, berating me for not knowing the law (“and you are a lawyer?”) and how SHE was right and SHE knew the law, and who was I to dare question HER? I diplomatically kept my mouth shut to keep the peace and moved on.
Of course I wanted to point out my experience in the field, and as a disinterested person (not my landlord or tenant)—I was merely stating what was, not what I wanted it to be. There would be no gain.
This is not unusual. Often tenants are unrepresented, and when we meet in court, they will tell me what the law is. “A landlord has to replace the carpet after each tenant.” [No—they don’t.] “A landlord can’t kick me out, and then sue for rent to the end of the lease” [Yes—they can.] “I told them my new address, and that was enough.” [No—it wasn’t.] I try to explain the law, in the hopes of resolving it. They don’t listen. We go before the Judge. I win. They feel “cheated”—I feel nothing. The law is what the law is.
I do think--if you are trying to convince me of what the law is in a field I know very well--you ought to know the statutes. You ought to know the case law. You ought to know how judges rule, why they rule that way. You ought to know the Court rules and the Rules of Evidence.
In the same vein, why aren’t cosmologists convinced by Kalaam’s Cosmological Argument? If this was such a great and impenetrable argument—shouldn’t every cosmologist say, “Why, clearly the universe has a cause?” Why is it that only Christian apologists, using it on Christian audiences, find it effective?
Why aren’t scientists convinced by Intelligent Design? Why is it only Christian apologists, using it on Christian audiences, find it effective?
Look, I don’t mind the minority view. We can all recall minority positions that eventually prevailed over the then-majority position. (*cough, cough* “Geocentricism, anyone?”) But at least recognize you are promulgating the minority position within the field, and recognize the up-hill battle you face!
I understand the frustration of Christians when faced with Christ-mythers. I deplore the tactic of saying those who claim Christ as historical have the burden of proof. Look, like it or spike it, Christ-myth is a minority position amongst historians. I am not sure I am over-stating it by claiming it is an extreme minority position.
This does not mean it is wrong, per se—but it does mean you should have your ducks in a row and be prepared to fight an up-hill battle against the prevailing view. You should know the strongest arguments for a historical Jesus. You should be able to respond to them. Your hypothesis needs to answer what facts we have better than the claim of a historical Jesus.
Yet often, the very people who are aghast against Christ-myth, employ the same (and worse) method when it comes to evolution. Amongst scientists it is NOT over-stating it to say non-evolution is an extreme minority position. Less than 1% when you take into account all the scientists in the world.
Do creationists (including intelligent design) likewise treat their own position as a minority position? Do they understand the up-hill battle? Do they know the arguments for evolution? Are they able to respond to them? Does a non-evolution hypothesis answer all the facts we have better than an evolution hypothesis?
Please understand, I am NOT saying “Majority opinion is correct.” What I am saying is, when you are trying to convince a lawyer—know the law. If you are trying to convince a cosmologist—know cosmology. If you are trying to convince a scientist—know science.