California Bar Journal
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I believe the literal translation is "Lifelong Employment for Lawyers"...Paralegals pose bigger threat than web lawyers

After reading Leslie Walker’s article on the various state bar associations’ fear of unauthorized practice of law by attorneys giving advice over the Internet, it occurred to me that all bar associations, especially the State Bar of California, should worry more about the unauthorized practice of law by so-called “paralegals” and “document preparation services” who are clearly giving legal advice despite their lack of training and qualifications, and are, in many instances, doing a disservice to their “clients” by preparing and filing poor and inadequate legal documents.

What is our bar association doing to protect us and the consumer from this form of unauthorized practice of law?

Christopher L. Mahan
Granada Hills

Inequitable discipline frustrates honest lawyers

The February issue contains reports of exactly the type of thing which frustrates all honest lawyers and leads to the conclusion that those running the State Bar are not really trying to help us with the practice of law.

The discipline article describes the outrageous, bad faith behavior of a licensee which led to his public denigration by judges and 37 impositions of sanctions for filing repeated frivolous actions. In comparison, the next report was about a licensee who let his client trust account fall below the proper amount.

The two results provided a shockingly disappointing comparison. The former licensee received a 30-day suspension, while the latter received a three-year suspension. Common sense and professional self-protection obviously require revocation of the first perpetrator’s privilege to practice law, but that is not what happened.

This report seems to describe practices we can prohibit; an unprofessional image of lawyers we can fix by cleaning our own house. Isn’t there something we, individual lawyers, or collectively as a State Bar, can do to fix our clearly broken system?

James L. Walker IV
San Rafael

Personal responsibility: The goal of legal reform

I would like to respond to the musings and ramblings of Esther Lardent (January Bar Journal).

I believe the system needs radical (at the roots) restructuring. But I am talking about the entire “system” beginning with the institutions our citizens are “educated” in. For most, this is the “government” (public) school system. The system where mediocrity is the goal and an “A” is awarded for merely attempting that goal.

People who are uninformed and ignorant will always need help solving their day-to-day problems. It is a wonder to me we’re not asked to help clients fill out driver’s license applications and insurance forms more often than we are.

And of course, one can never be expected to be responsible for his actions if for years he is taught that someone else is responsible for his situation. This combination of ignorance and inability to take responsibility for their own actions guarantees that any legal system will be a failure for many of our citizens.

Walter David Herbert
Riverton, Wyo.

In search of moral center

Thanks to Stephen Reed for his understanding of and then writing such a clear piece identifying “the problem” with our culture, e.g., the lack of a moral center. The problem is furthered by the lack of agreement that there is one (he notes the findings that show two-thirds of Ameri-cans do not believe in moral absolutes or in absolute truth) or should be one. Mr. Reed correctly points out that “. . . the next phase should be a serious and principled discussion of how to redevelop cultural consensus around fundamental issues of right and wrong . . .” He has my support and appreciation.

Thomas M. Holliday
Sparks, Nev.

A man who takes great pride in his profession

In response to the February letter of Scott Burton: I have practiced law in California for almost 50 years. After all those years, I still believe our profession is to be counted among the “noble” ones, providing an almost unmatched opportunity to do some good in this world. To be able to work with clients in addressing their problems, trying to find fair, reasonable and equitable solutions that are acceptable to the parties, and being (mostly) paid for those efforts, provides a lifetime of rewarding activity that is not measured just in money.

Yes, I have at times felt harassed and there is always some degree of stress. But I would not trade it for any other occupation.

For those who do not take pride in what they have the power to accomplish, or those who do not recognize the intangible rewards possible from their efforts, or those who cannot stand the heat, I guess the answer is to get out of the kitchen, as Mr. Bur-ton has done. Such a step would prob-ably be a favor to the existing and potential clients of any attorney with such an attitude toward the profession.

Bruce F. Bunker

Will the bar ever learn?

I see the State Bar has learned nothing from the prior years’ tribulations. There it was — on the bottom of page 3 (February Bar Journal) —  “Appeal Court Denies Bar’s Petition to Reverse Brosterhous.” And who represented the State Bar — none but the most liberal, leftist law firm in the state. Who authorized the filing of that mandate petition?

Ronald T. Golan
Palm Desert

The board of governors authorizes all such actions.