Now that the Reagan administration has worked out plans for saving us all in the event the country is reduced to radioactive rubble, lawyers are being urged to think about how to resurrect the legal system after a nuclear holocaust.
This month's Student Lawyer, the closest thing the American Bar Association has to a renegade publication, takes a look at what doomsday would mean to the legal profession in a dramatic cover story titled "Life and Law After the Bomb."
"The notion of lawyers walking around with briefcases in hand, calmly overseeing the estates of the deceased, settling disputed property claims, helping ravaged corporations get back on their feet, and (naturally) filing quite a few wrongful death and bodily injury damage suits appears bizarre to many observers. But not to everyone," writes Chicago freelancer Robert McClory.
The Justice Department, like all other agencies, has an evacuation plan, McClory reports, which includes transporting the Attorney General and others to Mount Weather, a secret government officials' hideaway said to be safe from the bomb.
In addition, McClory says, if the legal system falls apart, there are plans for martial law, including dividing the country into military districts where the generals, not the judges, would be in command.
Student Lawyer editor Catherine G. Cahan says that the magazine hoped that McClory's piece, illustrated with dramatic color drawings by survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, would jog the legal profession into some thought about "an issue that most people find very uncomfortable to think about."
Meanwhile, some lawyers are thinking about how to avoid nuclear devastation altogether. At its annual convention last summer, the ABA House of Delegates approved a cautiously worded resolution, drafted by the Lawyers Alliance for Nuclear Arms Control, which called on the U.S. to halt nuclear arms proliferation.
That vote "reflects an issue that transcends normal liberal and conservative boundaries," said John B. Jones Jr., a tax lawyer at Covington & Burling who founded the Washington Chapter of the Lawyers Alliance. The group is holding its second general membership meeting Wednesday.