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Law Day Turns 50, Goes Commercial

Law_day_balloons As a lawyer who has devoted at least part of his career to the field of labor relations, both as an advocate and as a neutral, I have always had mixed feelings about Law Day. In a post here last May 1, I noted that Law Day originated as a direct response to May Day, the international celebration of the working class and the labor movement -- a response meant to emphasize that the rule of law would prevail over unruly workers. As the Los Angeles Times blog Opinion L.A. notes today in recounting that newspaper's past May Day editorials, President Dwight D. Eisenhower's designation of Law Day "is sometimes considered a direct rebuke to the worldwide celebration of Labor Day on May 1. Americans had previously declared it 'Loyalty Day' and 'Americanization Day,' and many presidents past (and one current) have underscored the point."

Whatever the purpose of Law Day, one fact is clear: It was not intended as a celebration of lawyers. David Giacalone, who makes an annual ritual of writing about Law Day at his blog f/k/a ..., pointed this out in a post in 2004. This point is emphasized in a recounting from the Library of Congress for its 2000 Law Day commemoration. The lawyer who came up with the idea for Law Day, Charles S. Rhyne, then-president of the American Bar Association, was initially rebuffed by President Eisenhower's chief of staff, Sherman Adams, who told him, "The president will not sign a proclamation praising lawyers." But when President Eisenhower read the proclamation, he assured Adams, "Sherm, this proclamation does not contain one word praising lawyers. It praises our constitutional system of government, our great heritage under the rule of law, and asks our people to stand up and praise what they have created. I like it and I am going to sign it."

So, if Law Day celebrates neither workers nor lawyers, perhaps it can at least begin to celebrate commercialism, in the tradition of most great American holidays. To that end, perhaps, the ABA now has a Law Day Store, where you can find "your one-stop shop for Law Day products." Among the celebratory items on sale here, there are Law Day balloons, beach balls, yo-yos, sports bottles, and insulated cooler packs. With these products, you can commemorate the rule of law at the beach, at the gym, or anywhere you like. And so that you need never miss a law-related holiday, another online storefront catering to lawyers, The Billable Hour Company, this week announced the launch of its own Legal Holidays and Events Calendar. The purpose, says the company's announcement, is "to help raise the morale of legal professionals by spreading information about  all of the federal, state and local holidays that celebrate lawyers and legal  professionals." President Eisenhower's assurances aside, the calendar includes Law Day.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 1, 2008 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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