Reciprocity does not dilute
I want to commend President Madden (March) for
his willingness to lead the State Bar into a closer relationship with
the realities of legal practice in the 21st century. As legal
information, both raw and processed, becomes more easily accessed at
lower costs, our clients will certainly ask themselves, "What value
does my attorney add to the product?"
We must concentrate on securing that value rather
than relying on government enforcement to maintain a monopoly for us.
We must also recognize that the other aspect of monopoly law practice
- exclusion of attorneys licensed in other states - is simply not
being followed by anyone with national clients because a strict
application of state-by-state monopoly control is incompatible with
the national and international marketplace in which our clients
operate. It is one thing to ensure that every attorney is responsible
to a disciplinary system to which clients may appeal if injured. It is
quite another thing to burden those same clients with having to employ
additional lawyers when there is often little difference between the
laws governing business transactions in various states, because of
pervasive federal regulation and uniform state statutes.
The federal government does not feel any need to
ensure that the thousands of lawyers who advise it and represent it
are members of the bar in every state where they work. Having worked
15 years as a federal attorney representing my client in 25 states,
and having later earned admission in three states that do not have
reciprocity with each other, I have noticed no actual increase in my
competency as I have passed successive bar exams. The state bar
associations must admit the fact that attorneys cannot wall themselves
off from being part of America's free market economy, and must adapt
the form of bar membership to the substance of legal practice in the
Raymond Takashi Swenson
Idaho Falls, Idaho
I am a full-time teacher of sixth, seventh and
eighth grade students, and I am an active member of the California
bar. I received my Kids & the Law within the May issue of the Bar
Journal. It is an outstanding publication. Thank you very much for the
effort that went into it.
Gary J. Rubin
'Discrete' services won't
I fear that legitimizing "discrete task legal
services" as proposed by Palmer Madden (April Bar Journal) would
institutionalize the disparity in the quality of representation
afforded the affluent and the poor, subvert our most fundamental ethic
of undivided loyalty to our clients and in other respects render us no
more accountable for our actions than the legion of ghost-writing
"paralegals" to be found in our every strip mall.
I agree with Mr. Madden's implicit premises
that the cost of legal representation intolerably impairs access to
the courts for too large a segment of our population (and, I would
add, not just the indigent) and that the unrepresented population is
so large in comparison to our population of attorneys that the gap
cannot be closed by full representation on a pro bono basis even if
all we attorneys ourselves go on the dole.
And unless our legislature and judicial council
devote themselves to reduction and simplification rather than
expansion and elaboration, the disparity will only worsen as the bar
increasingly becomes the citizen's exclusive portal to the
courtroom. However, I don't think the answer is to create a shorter
day in court for the poor, but to put up the money to provide the
unrepresented with real lawyers.
John M. Maraldo
A question of fairness
The April issue provided me with a surprise. Two
practitioners were summarily disbarred, both for acts of moral
turpitude. I question neither the convictions nor the disbarments. I
trust the California court and the bar association acted with due
diligence. However, I ponder the wisdom of proceeding summarily.
For example, the practitioner who was found
guilty of an attempted lewd act upon a child, even though there was
neither a child present nor a lewd act performed.
The interesting part would be the court's
handling of the attempt issue. I care not a whit for the prurient
nature of the crime. Had the practitioner contemplated suicide while
driving to the ocean, planning to throw himself in, but then
mistakenly parked by a shallow lake, realized it wasn't deep enough,
and then abandoned the idea, would he then be charged with attempted
We'll never know without the case being argued
in full, rather than disposed of summarily. It would be instructive
indeed to observe the court struggle with the condition of attempt.
I would suggest the bar could reconsider the
summary aspect of these proceedings. Those of us who rely upon these
findings to guide our own lives would welcome examples from which to
understand the decision process.
Michael D. Hoy
In praise of Google
Dana Schultz's excellent article regarding the
Google search engine will hopefully bring the word about this truly
exceptional internet tool to the legal community. However, he did
overlook two aspects of the Google that I use frequently.
First, Google "caches" or saves the original
version of the indexed page so that if the website has changed, you
can still retrieve the page. This is very useful for searching news
sites, which are constantly changing.
Second, Google allows you to access a pdf website
in the text format. For those using dial-up connections, this is very
useful because pdf websites are notoriously slow to download and
difficult to access. More important, the text format of the page
highlights in color your search terms - much like a Lexis search.
In sum, Google is great.