California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1999
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - October 1999
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News
Johnson confirmed for second term as bar's top prosecutor
Courts serve up mixed rulings on State Bar
Ethics association elects Karpman president
Six new governors join bar board
New group targets health care fraud
Public law section creates online library of public law links
JoAnne Spears honored
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
Slaying an imaginary dragon
The perfect ending: Results
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From the President - This bar year ends on a high note
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Letters to the Editor
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Public Comment
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Legal Tech - Tips for network administrators
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New Products & Services
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1999 Honors
State Bar cites pro bono service
Young lawyers salute San Diego sole practitioner for outstanding service
State Bar hails 'lawyer's lawyer'
Aided by attorney, parolee cited, hired
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MCLE Self-Study
The Rigors of Fee Agreements
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Before you sue for fees, think again
Woman who impersonated husband ordered reinstated
Attorney Discipline

LETTERS

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Prior mismanagement cause of bar's ills

Ray Marshall's article blaming Gov. Wilson's veto for a host of ills (August, California Bar Journal) is disappointing and frustrating, but not surprising. Heaven forbid the bar bureaucracy take any responsibility for a wake-up call that was long in coming. Such sentiment suggests that those in charge have learned nothing from the bar's prior mismanagement.

As for Mr. Marshall's reference to "California's model attorney discipline system," I cannot say how often I have read the Bar Journal's discipline section and been shocked and angered by what an attorney can do without outright disbarment. Public relations is about all that justifies mandatory CLE (even for most lawyers who truly buy into the MCLE marketing charade).

Where is our profession's public image concern when it comes to what we allow a corrupt or incompetent lawyer to get away with? If the bar wants to boost public confidence in the legal profession, let it do better weeding out those who should not be practicing law. Let it also realize that the fundamental problems with these unfortunate license-holders will not be cured by a two-hour seminar in ethics or law practice management.

On a different note, multidisciplinary practices (MDPs) would invite another problem plaguing the medical profession: licensed personnel supervising too many non-licensed personnel. Imagine a firm where, in addition to his or her own work, one attorney must supervise the work of 10 paralegals. Now imagine not 10 paralegals but 10 paralegal assistants. No attorney in their right mind would want this kind of responsibility.

Todd M. Moreno
San Francisco

Getting more aggressive to set the record straight

Every year those lawyers aspiring to be the leader of the State Bar discuss their goals for the coming year. Often they mention that one of their goals is to improve the reputation of the attorneys in this state. This goal, however noble, seems to have a short shelf life and falls by the wayside as other more pressing issues take priority.

I would urge all those involved in the State Bar to read the article by Carl Heintze in the opinion section of the August California Bar Journal. His article was an honest, fair, eloquent statement about what lawyers do and who they are. Finally we hear a voice that could and should be heard far more often.

Are the leaders listening? I certainly hope so, because if we are ever going to change public opinion, it will only come when we become more aggressive about setting the record straight.

Christopher P. Rugaard
San Ramon

Time for humans to assume responsibility

It sickens me as an attorney and human being to see not only the lawsuits being filed against gun companies, but the moralizing behind those lawsuits (July Opinion, California Bar Journal). Guns are weapons that by definition are meant to be dangerous. However, they present no danger until they are loaded and placed in the hands of human beings.

This issue is but one of many examples. When are we as human beings going to start assuming responsibility for ourselves and our actions, instead of always looking for someone else to blame? The simple truth is that until we do start taking responsibility for our own actions and mistakes, the moral fiber of our society will continue its downward spiral, all the while hiding behind a facade of righteousness.

After guns, will we then decide to sue the knife manufacturers?

C. Brian Martin
Torrance

A novel idea for states to eliminate taxes

Since the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Florida Prepaid v. College Savings Bank that states cannot be sued on infringement claims, state legislatures across the country should seriously consider manufacturing patented products of all shapes and sizes for revenue purposes. This could be so successful that it could lead to the total elimination of all state and local taxes.

And, if states are immune from patent infringement suits, why should they not also be immune from copyright infringement suits? In that case, states could begin producing knockoffs of best-selling novels, the latest computer software programs, and . . . well, the list is endless.

Seriously, while this idea might be politically unfeasible in California, that is not necessarily so in smaller states like Mississippi and Wyoming, which have no significant constituency possessing either patents or copyrights that need protection.

Joseph Scanlon
Oakland