The Lawyer’s Paradox – Who Was Right ?

The Lawyer's Moral Paradox

A great lawyer was able to demand very high fees because of his excellent reputation. One day, an impoverished young man came to him and persuaded him to take him as a student, proving his brilliance by negotiating the following deal :

The student could not pay any fees because he had no money. However, as soon as he won his first case he would begin paying. Because the lawyer was so good, the student was bound to start winning cases and everyone would be happy.

The student proved a very good learner and left the lawyer well versed in law. But then he decided not to practise and never took on a single case. So the teacher never got any money.

The lawyer therefore sued the young man for his fees, thinking to himself : ‘If I win this suit, I will be paid by order of the court. But if I lose, I will be paid too, because he will have won his first case. Therefore, I must win my money’.

The student laughed when he discovered he was being sued, thinking : ‘If I win this case, I don’t have to pay anything, by order of the court. But if I lose, I don’t have to pay either, because of our agreement’.

Who was right ?