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Not more pro bono

One wonders whether Associate Dean Scott Wylie (“Losing Out, Home Depot-style,” September) has considered this as a possible, partial solution to the growing number of unrepresented litigators: have the State Bar lobby the boys and girls in Sacramento (who often times have nothing better to do than “fix that which isn’t broken”) to take a real hard look at the several thousand laws they introduce each year and ask themselves (or better yet, ask a practicing attorney) just how much each law impacts the ability of the members of the low income and middle class to seek representation.

Each new “requirement” generates a new form, declaration, allegation, consideration, analysis or agreement or combination thereof, which, in turn, translates into time (which, in turn, translates into money for those of us in the “trenches”), thus making it more difficult and expensive for those seeking judicial intervention.

Increasing pro bono work is not the answer.

Charles W. Salter

A helping hand

I am a retired attorney of advanced age and the October article (“Abused seniors turn to Alameda court for help”) struck a chord with me and also raised many concerns. This program of court service to the elderly, disabled residents of Alameda County is important and it is successful.

It would be a disservice to the community to discontinue the court’s efforts for the helpless residents, who are in their condition solely because of their advanced age and bad health. This program should and could be funded by the State Bar and such effort would be in the interest of all California attorneys, including myself.

My charitable budget is way overdrawn, but I will provide a share of financial assistance to this important and necessary endeavor.

Kurt R. Anker
Santa Barbara

Help for San Diego seniors

Kudos to Judge Julie Conger for her work with the elderly population of Alameda County (October). The aging of our California population should make more courts take a special interest in providing for the unique legal needs of this group.

However, to correct the record, Judge Conger’s efforts are not the only ones in California to tackle the problems of the elderly. In the San Diego Superior Court, in the Vista regional courthouse, we serve over a million people and many of them are senior citizens.

Since 1999, we have had our POET project in which we do many of the same things as described in the article. POET stands for Protect Our Elder Treasures and is a special calendar held every Thursday for elder abuse and related hearings. Unfortunately, most of the abusers are the adult children of the petitioners but, with the help of the local support groups, the court can enforce protection for this most vulnerable of the population.

David W. Ryan
Judge of the Superior Court, Vista

Shoulda been governor

The (deservedly) laudatory front page profile (October) of new State Bar President John Van de Kamp had but a single omission. To paraphrase the late H.L. Mencken, in 1990, the Democrats demonstrated that “one ought never overestimate the intelligence of voters in the Democratic Party.”

That year, of course, Mr. Van de Kamp was outspent by his primary opponent, the vast majority of whose funds came after a little “pillow talk” with her mega-millionaire husband. It remains an unending pity that John Van de Kamp never became the governor of California.

Nathaniel J. Friedman
Beverly Hills

Don’t say ‘so what?’

Re: “Responsibility and Diversity,” (September letter) from Karen Feld. Congratulations on your tenacity and perseverance. I commend your siblings as well. Your family has done well and you have much to be proud of.

You may believe that blaming the lack of diverse attorneys on unequal education, discrimination and prejudice is ridiculous. Maybe you are right. However, what you should know is that unequal education, discrimination and prejudice are alive and well. When you say “So what?” you should consider the power of that statement.

I too come from a Mexican family. We know that even though there may not be money to share, there is always an abundance of love and support available to help us succeed. Unlike you and your siblings, many of us did not become “professionals.” I have a brother who is a captain in the fire department and a sister who is a psychiatric social worker, and the rest of my brothers and sisters and myself hold a variety of good jobs in public service.

Ms. Feld, keep in mind that some young person out there is going to need a mentor. A bright enthusiastic mind who is at the disadvantage of having no parent or role model to keep them grounded and focused.

I hope you are there to respond, and not with the statement, “So what?”

Martha Espinosa McLaughlin
Santa Paula

About that audit

Concerning the audit of scaled active membership fees: The State Bar requested submittal of a copy of my 2003 federal tax return form 1040, any 2003 W-2 forms and my 2003 Schedule C.

I am a member of the State Bar and as such an officer of the court. Your request implies that you do not accept the truthfulness of my representation that in 2003 I received less than $30,000 from the practice of law. That is insulting.

Dean Bekken
San Diego

The criterion for scaling at the 50 percent rate ($30,000 or less) is total annual earned income.

Job hunting for disabled

As a blind member of the California State Bar, I am acutely aware of the issues associated with disabilities and employment in the legal profession.

The majority of legal employers purport to be “Equal Opportunity Employers”; however, the old stereotypes regarding disabilities unfortunately result in the reality that most law offices are not equal opportunity employers for disabled individuals. 

Regardless of the “legal disclaimers,” it was easy for me to discern certain details and attitudes that clearly indicated when an employer would not be giving me an equal opportunity on account of my disability. Too often, I knew that my disability was indeed the central issue in the mind of the interviewer.

Thank you very much for your efforts on behalf of equality in the California State Bar.

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