efforts conceal societys 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 Californias 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
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
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.
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, its
no big deal. If you get kicked out, you just get reinstated (Discip-line, March Bar
Why isnt disbarment permanent? As a client, Id 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. Lets have a new call for the year 2000: One strike, youre
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.