Time to crack down on UPL
I concur wholeheartedly in the expression of my
fellow lawyers regarding the State Bar taking an aggressive approach
barring the unlicensed practice of law by paralegals, especially those
who set up storefront operations under the guise of "legal typing
Even form-intensive areas of the law such as
family law, bankruptcy and evictions require a full understanding of
the legal complexities and ramifications the choice of checking off
each particular box will have, and this requires a lawyer's
training, experience and continuing legal education.
Plus, besides merely filling out forms, these
paralegal typing services are advertising such things as
incorporation, wills and living trusts, which require a lot more than
merely checking off the appropriate box.
The State Bar has for too long turned a blind eye
to "legal typing services," and it is time they cracked down on
them for the unlicensed practice of law.
Allen P. Wilkinson
Duped by a notary
In response to your article ("Unlawful practice
hits vulnerable immigrants"), I want to make two small observations.
First, the Ninth Circuit has recognized that unlawful practice by
non-attorneys is fraud and consequently tolls the statute of
limitations. In Lopez v. INS, 184 F.3d 1097 (9th Cir. 1999) the
immigrant was permitted to reopen his deportation proceedings despite
the statute of limitations, where he was duped by a notary public
posing as an attorney.
The court stated, "This court long ago adopted
as its own chancery rule that where a plaintiff has been injured by
fraud and 'remains in ignorance of it without any fault or want of
diligence or care on his part, the bar of the statute does not begin
to run until the fraud is discovered, though there be no special
circumstances or efforts . . . To conceal it from the knowledge of the
other party.' (citations) This equitable doctrine is read into every
federal statute of limitation."
Second, IRS regulations provide for investigation
and sanctions for such actions. See Lopez v. INS, 184 F.3d at 1100; 8
CFR §292.3(a)(4), (15). I fully support all efforts made by the State
Bar to eliminate this practice.
Charles E. Thomas
U.S. should do no harm
I couldn't agree more with George Kraw's
title: "First, do no harm" (November Bar Journal). What a
wonderful idea. However, the response of the U.S. government is not to
do no harm, but rather to bomb and then rely on good people like Mr.
Kraw to justify why the bombing was done.
Since World War II, the U.S. government has
engaged in warfare in Korea, Vietnam, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Lebanon,
Yugoslavia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Iraq, Laos, Cambodia,
Somalia, Libya and many other countries. It has subverted governments
in Portugal, Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Domini-can Republic,
Iran, Australia and many other countries.
"First, do no harm." It is a wonderful
slogan. Too bad it has nothing to do with U.S. government foreign
Freedom outweighs safety
George Kraw suggests that because the legal
profession is not called upon to fight and die for the Constitution,
its concern for our civil rights should not be allowed to hamper the
military's and law enforcement's fight against terrorism. Mr. Kraw
expressed an all-too-common sentiment; namely, that he places his
personal safety above his freedom.
Giving government broader powers of electronic
eavesdropping, easing prosecution of terrorists and the like may not
seem like major infringements on our rights. How-ever, when combined
with all the other infringements on our personal rights, especially
those resulting from the "war on drugs," they will do immense and
I took an oath as a lawyer to support the
Constitution. I took an oath as a military officer to defend it with
my life. If the price of zealously protecting our civil rights is that
it will be harder to fight terrorism or even that I must give up my
life, I will gladly pay that price - if it means our Constitution
will survive and my children will enjoy some of the freedoms I have
Mr. Kraw fails to recognize that what makes our
Constitution and Republic worth dying for is the very fact that it
guarantees individual civil rights above all else.
If we discard our personal freedoms in the vain
hope of protecting our national security, we deserve neither freedom
Steven A. Silver
Should lawyers be required to
Diane Karpman's article (September) noted that
sole practitioners and members of small firms were far more likely to
be the subject of disciplinary action than lawyers practicing in
larger firms. This fact may easily lead to an inference that the
disciplinary system is biased in favor of larger firms.
There is something wrong with small firms and
solo practitioners being disproportionately liable to disciplinary
action. But I believe there is a factor which the article failed to
mention: mentors. In larger firms, new lawyers work under close
supervision and even experienced lawyers are far more likely to work
as members of a team rather than all alone. As a result, mistakes are
caught before they harm the client and new lawyers in particular are
taught potential pitfalls.
There is something wrong with a system where, in
general, those lawyers who did less well in law school are often left
with only the option of hanging out their own shingle. Other
professions solve this problem by demanding an apprenticeship of one
kind of another, as does the English bar. Should our profession do
4th District Court of Appeal, Santa Ana
Assumption of guilt
In his opinion piece (November), John McNeece
states that "in light of the scope and destructiveness of the
terrorist attack and the evident interrelation between bin Laden and
the Taliban, the U.S. is justified in asserting self-defense as a
basis for the armed response against the Taliban."
In the Gulf War, George Bush Sr. had express
authority from the U.N. Security Council to use force to expel Iraq
from Kuwait. Resolutions 1368 and 1373, while condemning "terrorist
attacks" and reaffirming the "inherent right of individual or
collective self-defence" under Article 51, do not explicitly
authorize the U.S. to attack Afghanistan.
Article 51 clearly contemplates the that the
right of "self-defence" applies only when one state has been
attacked by another state. All we know about the men who commandeered
the planes that struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon is that 15 of
the 19 were Saudi Arabian citizens, two were from the United Arab
Emirates, one was from Lebanon and the alleged
leader was Egyptian. The Bush administration has yet to provide
any credible evidence that links Osama bin Laden or the de facto
government of Afghanistan to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Since President Bush, and apparently Mr. McNeece,
already know bin Laden and the Taliban are "guilty" we need not
look to international law which requires the slow and methodical
accumulation of evidence that will support indictments of individuals
or organizations that planned the horrific attacks on Sept. 11.
Marina del Rey