California Bar Journal
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...And does the public ever hear about the charity and pro bono work we do?  No-o-o-o... It's always the cheap jokes and negative stereotyping

Lawyers face extinction

I think we have done enough damage to our profession during my 45 years as a member of the bar without the help of the ABA. At the rate we are going, the legal profession - as a profession - will soon become another endangered species.

We have already surrendered participation in the real estate industry to the brokers, escrow and title companies. We divorced ourselves from ordinary no-fault domestic dissolutions and handed them to independent money-making paralegals.

Corporate trustees now dominate trust estates which at one time were the exclusive domain of attorneys at law. Their erasing of the once-mandatory annual accounting to their beneficiaries further booted lawyers out of court.

Attorneys' fees are now in the triple-digit dollar-per-hour level, leaving ordinary working citizens without our services.

Now, we face extinction by dilution in partnership with other disciplines. Is our once-honored profession now lodged in courts or is it one of the vegetable stands in the marketplace?

Charles F. Day
Laguna Niguel

MDPs pose a real threat

One need only look at the medical profession and the proliferation of non-doctor-owned HMOs to see what the future of law would be with MDPs. Non-attorneys, who owe no ethical obligation to the client and have no understanding of the importance of rules of professional conduct, will be making case management decisions based upon the bottom line. Attorneys, like doctors now, will be at the mercy of non-attorney owners who one can assume are primarily motivated by the profit potential for MDPs, not serving the best interest of the client.

While attorneys are also profit-motivated, most attorneys I know have on many occasions taken pro bono cases or continued to vigorously represent a client on a non-profitable case out of a sense of client loyalty, professional responsibility and a desire to further justice. While we attorneys may not be perfect, most of us have a very real commitment to put the interests of our clients first and to be in control of the decisions that affect our clients' legal rights.

To argue that MDPs should be allowed because "everyone is doing it anyway" and the Rules of Profes-sional Conduct barring such conduct are not enforced is specious reasoning reminiscent of a teenager rationalizing his way out of restriction. To further argue that attorney opposition is based upon "turf protection" is a slap in the face to the profession as a whole.

MDPs threaten the basic principals of what it means to be an attorney.

Susan K. Chelsea
San Diego

MDPs will lead to a downward spin

The hallmark of any professional is independence, both apparent and real. Incestuous relationships between attorneys and other personal advisors - bankers, accountants, realtors, etc. - destroy that independence and import economic motives that can compete with a client's best interests.

MDP is simply another downward rung on the ladder we seem bent on descending, from the dignity of a true profession into the mire of crass provision of commercial services with little regard for the duty to independently analyze our clients' needs and situations and provide sound, untainted advice.

Bob Woods

Anti-gun lawsuits won't keep us safe

Erwin Chemerinksy's support of lawsuits by cities and victims of gun accidents holding gunmakers liable for the negligence of gun owners where no defect is present in their products (July Opinion) is troubling. A totally safe gun is an oxymoron; it could not carry out the purpose for its use - firing a projectile - without some risk of harm if misused.

Furthermore, his premise that ". . . firearms have a devastating impact on American society," while a not-unreasonable response to the horrifying figure of 1,500 annual accidental firearms deaths, is nevertheless unsupported by empirical evidence. When one actually checks the facts of the matter, it is seen that firearms are in fact surprisingly safe compared to all other dangers inherent in life.

When nearly 29 times more Americans are killed in automobile accidents than from accidental shootings, and nearly 59 times more Americans die from pneumonia or flu than from accidental shootings, and 483 times more Americans die from heart disease than from accidental shootings, perhaps our efforts are better directed at encouraging seatbelt use, regular immunizations, proper diet and exercise than advocating blackmail-by-litigation in pursuit of a fairy tale dream of a society completely free from harm.

Donovan Dennis

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

I was insulted by H.L. Young's remarks (July letters) that lawyers are whining and being lazy. There is a big difference between laziness and wasting time on useless courses that are only there to make money for the course providers.

I also don't understand his logic regarding the exemptions. A retired judge, who is not a retired lawyer, would presumably have clients. Often law professors have outside practices and even if they don't, their "clients" are the students. As for government officials, the most ludicrous exemption of all, the clients are you and me, the taxpayers.

Jeffrey Breitbart
West Hollywood

Non-ABA law school grads beware of bar's neglect

Yet another shocking example of how the State Bar neglects its members is the plight of members who are graduates of non-ABA law schools. Move out of the state and you can no longer be an attorney!

Only Oregon and the District of Columbia bars afford any status to non-ABA-graduate California attorneys. But what has the bar done to remedy this grossly unfair situation?

Nada, nothing, not a thing.

Apparently being licensed to practice in California is not good enough for the vast majority of states.

Any non-ABA law school graduate who supports the current bar structure must truly be defective since the bar supports this patently unfair status quo through its tacit acceptance of second class status for a sizable minority of its members.

Jonathan Levy
Cincinnati, Ohio

Lawyers should prepare for the unthinkable

Ellen Peck provides many valuable insights in the column, "The Disabled Practitioner." Naturally, many California bar members need to be aware of circumstances in which they or their partners could no longer practice. I would hope there would be equal awareness of a more common situation: where someone becomes disabled and could not practice. Unfortunately, we've all been too slow to make the adaptations necessary for smooth transition to practice with a disability. I fear that because of a perception that the transition might not be smooth, lawyers in California and elsewhere may take the easier choice, which would be not to practice.

Arthur Blaser