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(c) Rafael Chodos 2009
|This abstract impression of Giotto's Tower in Florence is the logo of Mr. Chodos' law office because he considers that Tower to be emblematic of essential features of Law in modern society. |
In 1334, when he was 68 years old, the painter Giotto was commissioned to design and construct the belltower for the Cathedral of Florence. Giotto sketched out his design, did the underlying calculations, and began the construction. When he died three years later, the first story had been completed. Thirty years after his death, his student Andrea Pisano had completed the next three stories. Then Pisano's student, Francesco Talenti, designed the remaining stories, and three more generations carried on the work. Talenti discovered that Giotto had made some mistakes in his calculations and that the walls on the first floors had to be thickened and reinforced in order to carry the full load of the Tower. The thickness of the lower walls was doubled, and the construction went on. Giotto's Tower was finally completed in the year 1480 , nearly 150 years after it was begun. Five generations of artists, architects and artisans, had worked on it; five generations of Florentine nobility had financed it.
In our day and age, there is no such building. Our buildings take a few years to construct, at the most. We do not launch projects that might take generations to complete, because we do not have any confidence that succeeding generations will share our passions, or our sense of aesthetics. For us, what seems beautiful and worthwhile today may seem dated and trivial a few years from now.
But there is one exception to this general rule: the Law. Law is Society's on-going search for integrity, in which search we have all been cooperatively engaged since the beginning of civilized time. The law is our "Giotto's Tower". It is something we have been building together for centuries: generations of judges and lawyers and litigants have agreed that this construction project is worthwhile and even necessary; the fundamental standards of justice have survived intact for hundreds of years.