What sort of causes an orator should chiefly undertake, § 1-7. What remuneration he may reasonably receive for his services, 8-12
1. AFTER the young orator has gained sufficient strength for any kind of contest, his first care must be employed about the choice of causes he will undertake. In making such a choice, a good man will certainly prefer defending accused persons rather than prosecuting them, yet he will not have such a horror of the name of accuser, as to be incapable of being moved by any consideration, public or private, to call any man to account for his life and conduct. For even the laws themselves would be of no force if they were not supported by the judicious voice of the orator. If it were not allowable to exact punishment for crimes, crimes themselves would be almost permitted, and that license should be granted to the bad is decidedly contrary to the interest of the good. 2. The orator, therefore, will not allow to pass unpunished the just complaints of allies, or the murder of a friend or relative, or conspiracies intended to burst forth in the overthrow of the government. This is not because he is eager for vengeance on the guilty, but because he is desirous of reforming the vicious and of correcting public morals, since those who cannot be brought to a better way of life by reason can be kept in order only by terror. 3. Therefore, though living the life of an accuser and bringing the guilty to judgment by hope of reward is similar to subsisting by robbery, expelling intestine corruption is conduct resembling that of the noblest defenders of their country.
Accordingly, the most eminent men in our republic have not shrunk from this part of an orator's duty, and young men of the highest rank have been regarded as making the accusation of bad citizens a proof of their attachment to their country, because it was thought that they would have not expressed hatred of the wicked or have incurred the enmity of others, but from confidence in their own integrity of mind. 4. This was the conduct, in consequence, adopted by Hortensius, the Luculli, Sulpicius, Cicero, Caesar, and many others, as well as by the elder and younger Cato, one of whom has been called the Wise, and unless the other be thought wise, I do not know to whom he has left the right of taking the name. Yet an orator will not defend all persons indiscriminately or open the salutary haven of his eloquence to pirates. He will be influenced to advocate any cause chiefly by the good opinion which he forms of the nature of it.
5. But as one man cannot undertake the defense of all those who go to law with some appearance of justice, the number of whom is certainly considerable, he will pay some attention to the characters of those who recommend clients to his care, as well as to that of those who are desirous to engage in suits, so that he may be led by a feeling for the most upright, whom a good man will always regard as his best friends. 6. But he must keep himself free from two sorts of vain ostentation: the one, that of obtruding his services on the powerful against the humble; the other, which is even more boastful, that of supporting the humble against persons of dignity, for it is not rank that makes causes just or unjust. Nor will he let any feeling of shame prevent him from declining a cause which he has undertaken on the supposition that it was good, but which, in the course of discussion, he has discovered to be unjust, after telling his client his real opinion of it.
7. If I am a fair judge, it is indeed a great service to a client not to beguile him with vain hopes. Nor, on the other hand, is a client deserving of the assistance of an advocate if he does not listen to his advice. Assuredly it does not become him, whom I would approve a true orator, to knowingly defend injustice (if he supports what is not true in such cases as I have mentioned above, what he does will still be justifiable).
8. Whether an orator should always plead gratuitously is a question which admits of discussion and which would be inconsiderate and without reflection to decide at once. For who does not know that it is by far the more honorable course, and one more worthy of the liberal arts and of the feelings we expect to find in an orator, not to set a price on his efforts and thus lower the estimation of so great a blessing as eloquence, because many things seem worthless in the eyes of the world for no other reason than that they may be purchased? 9. This, as the saying goes, is clear enough even to the blind. Nor will any pleader who has but a competency for himself (and a little will suffice for a competency) make a gain of his art without incurring the charge of meanness. But if his circumstances demand something more for his necessary requirements than he actually possesses, he may, according to the opinions of all wise men, allow a recompense to be made him, since contributions were raised for the support even of Socrates, and Zeno, Cleanthes, and Chrysippus took fees from their scholars. 10. Nor do I see any more honorable way of gaining support than by the practice of a noble profession,and by receiving remuneration from those whom we have served and who, if they made no return, would be unworthy of defense. Such a return, indeed, is not only just, but necessary, as the very labor and time devoted to other people's business precludes all possibility of making profit by any other means. 11. But in this respect, also, moderation is to be observed, and it makes a great difference from whom, how much, and for how long a time an orator receives fees. The rapacious practice of making bargains and the detestable traffic of those who ask a price proportioned to the risk of their clients will never be adopted even by such as are but moderately dishonest, especially when he who defends good men and good causes has no reason to fear that anyone he defends will be ungrateful. If such should be the case, I would prefer that the client should be in fault rather than the pleader. 12. The orator, therefore, will entertain no desire of gaining more than shall be just sufficient and, even if he is poor, will receive nothing as pay, but will consider it merely a friendly acknowledgment of service, being conscious that he has conferred much more than he receives. Benefits of such a nature, because they are not to be sold, are not therefore to be thrown away, and it belongs to the obliged party to show gratitude.