Forget online charges
Have you folks lost your minds? Lawyers are the people who bring about due
process and support the presumption of innocence. To put allegations of misconduct
on an attorney’s bar listing before anything is proven is anti-American
and outright stupid. It’s something we would expect to see in a fascist
country, not in California. Surely the bar knows this kind of information would
be so prejudicial to the attorney in question as to cause him or her to lose
any business an inquirer might have.
As a former prosecuting attorney myself, I am appalled at this proposal and
strongly suggest you come to your senses and withdraw it.
Guilty until proven innocent
I am completely opposed to the online publication of notices of disciplinary
charges, as it is overzealous to say the least. Being a criminal lawyer, I
know that the court of public opinion is completely different than that
of a court of law. In the court of public opinion, for the most part, people
are guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around. It is not
fair to make public simple accusations of attorney misconduct, as that can
and will directly cast an adverse reflection on that lawyer’s reputation
without any proof that the allegations are correct.
The State Bar may be able to prove its charges around 90 percent of the time;
it is the other 10 percent who have done nothing wrong that I am worried about.
These notifications may even cause a chilling effect in the types of cases
and clients lawyers are willing to take if they think there is a chance that
something may occur that may warrant a complaint. Sometimes, even the best
attorneys will receive complaints from clients who lose their case on the merits
but blame their attorney.
Allowing a statement by the attorney in response to the notice posted will
do nothing to correct this situation, and may even make the situation worse
if the attorney for some reason is not able to articulate his side in writing
in the most accurate way possible. The best (and most American) thing
to do is for the prosecution to prove its case first.
Samer A. Salhab
The hubbub about the Justice Gap contributions is much ado about nothing.
The financial contribution by the attorneys at these firms with 100 percent “participation” works
out to less than .1 percent of their total salaries. I suppose now they can
enter 100 percent participation on their NALP forms, tout it on their Web sites,
and as an added bonus, get good publicity through the State Bar.
That same $100 would probably buy you about 20 minutes of the respective attorney’s
legal services. Members should be commended for pro bono, but I think
recognizing this is ridiculous and embarrassing.
I find it truly amazing that our State Bar president in his June opinion column
laments the inaccessibility of legal services to the poor and middle class
due to cost when at the same time the bar has approved malpractice insurance
disclosure rules. These rules will do nothing but increase the overhead for
small firms and solo practitioners who are the attorneys most likely to serve
the middle class. Attorneys will have no other option but to pass these costs
to the consumer, making competent legal services that much more out of reach
to the average person.
If the State Bar truly cared about legal access, it would pass rules and lobby
for changes in court operations that would result in a reduction of overhead
costs so attorneys could provide legal services to the poor and middle class
and still make a living.
Darren J. Bogié
Let the market work
There is no middle class “legal services crisis,” unless you suspend
reality and look for ways to expand government. Your editorial totally ignored
what we middle class persons do about life’s risks. While we probably
cannot afford non-plaintiff’s litigation, we have found a free enterprise
way to take care of ourselves, while not raising taxes or expanding the government.
We buy insurance — auto insurance, homeowners insurance, umbrella insurance,
uninsured motorist insurance. As a member of an insurance pool we can and every
day do hire lawyers to represent us.
There is no need to create faux-lawyers to fix faux-problems. There are a
plethora of mediation programs to handle low-level neighbor or family disputes
to be found in colleges, law schools, real estate associations, etc. As to
taxes, there are bookkeepers, accountants, H&R Block, and Quicken’s
Turbo-Tax, all of whom know more tax than I do.
There are many plaintiffs’ attorneys out there who want new clients
with meritorious claims. Persons can already get representation in areas from
environmental issues to bad faith insurance practices to ADA compliance and
even Social Security representation, all at no cost and on a contingent fee
basis, if the attorney thinks the case has merit.
I don’t think the State Bar, as a part of California’s government,
should be using my taxes (dues) to work to expand government. Rather, I suggest
the bar let the market work.