California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - April 2000
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News Briefs
Election schedule set for board, CYLA vacancies
Bar court judge appointments process to be reviewed
Newest board member dies
Ventura County mobile legal center cited by ABA
ABA offers three CLE programs
Bar, Western State plan annual ethics symposium
Penalty for late bar dues moved to April 28
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Legal Tech - UM: The leading edge of convergence
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From the President - Link starting salaries with service
Easy to destroy, hard to rebuild
2 trains on a collision course
Keep the judiciary independent
Letters to the Editor
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MCLE Self-Study
Viewing the Subdivision Map Act
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Public Comment
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Ethics Byte - More on the written agreement
Charges of grand theft, sexual battery lead to bar hearing
Attorney Discipline


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Being tried in the media...Affirmative action efforts conceal society’s failings

As an Asian-American attorney, I applaud the efforts of California law schools to encourage minority students to consider a legal career and apply for law school admission. As the son of a letter carrier, I had never even met an attorney until college, and I financed my JD and LLM degrees through military service.

It is clear that California’s law schools have not discriminated against minority applicants for many years. The lack of more minority students is therefore attributable to other factors, such as poor educational opportunities at the primary and secondary levels, financial shortfalls that do not permit a student to defer full-time employment, and factors in some cultures that devalue academic achievement.

Affirmative action in law school admissions is not so much a remedy (since it benefits only a small group who are relatively high achievers) as it is a method of concealing the wide failure of society to give all minority students a good public education.

If the top 20 percent of white applicants at Boalt Hall were told they had been turned down, despite their excellence, because they had been involuntarily selected to give up their seats to a less competitive minority student, the unfairness of racial bias in admissions policy would become much more obvious to the higher income families who support affirmative action policies when the effects of those policies are borne by blue collar workers’ sons and daughters.

Raymond Takashi Swenson, Lt. Colonel, USAF (ret.)
Richland, Wash.

By helping youth, we increase diversity

To remain credible and effective, our profession needs attorneys who come from a variety of backgrounds. Now that affirmative action programs are dwindling at the college and law school levels, we must invest energy in young people so they will be prepared to compete on an even playing field when they reach the law school level.

Lawyers can become mentors for youth of color who are interested in legal careers. Firms can provide internships for high school students. I encourage interested people in the Bay Area to get in touch with the law academies at Mission or Balboa high schools in San Francisco or contact the Center for Youth Development through Law at 510/642-4520.

Nancy Schiff

The writer is the executive director of the Center for Youth Development through Law.

Paralegals: A new definition

Paralegals have banded together in a concerted effort to disassociate themselves from legal document assistants and unlawful detainer assistants who provide a service to the public but do not work under the direct supervision of an active member of the State Bar.

AB 1761, introduced Feb. 18, will aid in distinguishing paralegals from those non-lawyers who provide unsupervised legal services directly to members of the public. The bill will impose minimum standards and qualifications required of all persons holding themselves out as paralegals.

Sandra Stratman (Paralegal)
San Luis Obispo

Lawyer should get 1 strike

I take very seriously the oath I took to protect my clients, serve their interests, perform as a responsible officer of the court and promote the integrity of the legal profession. Maybe I am naive, but I also take seriously the act of disbarment. I fear disbarment because it is supposed to cause horrible, humiliating and irreversible damage to my livelihood.

Not so! Apparently, if you steal from your clients, miss filing deadlines, lie to the bar or commit any number of other supposedly terrible acts, it’s no big deal. If you get kicked out, you just get reinstated (Discip-line, March Bar Journal).

Why isn’t disbarment permanent? As a client, I’d be livid to find out my attorney had previously been disbarred for stealing from a client, only to be reinstated so he could steal from me.

There is no excuse for cheating a client. The Rules of Professional Conduct are clear. Let’s have a new call for the year 2000: One strike, you’re out — no reinstatement.

Suzanne A. Tollefson

Just too lax

Leonard “Dick” Basinger, the lawyer who was first disbarred for stealing $260,000 in partnership and client trust funds, should never have been reinstated into the State Bar. Now he has struck again.

The public should not have to bear the risk of a recurrence. The public interest comes before that of the individual lawyer.

The State Bar is too lax.

Dana Drake
Huntington Beach