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August 18, 2003

Mass. Legislature Acts Quickly in Response to Bar Advocate Boycott

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:49 pm

To avoid further judicial gridlock, both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature approved a supplemental budget today, which would pay “bar advocates” for services provided in Fiscal 2003 but not yet paid by the State.  Just this morning, the court-appointed lawyers for indigent parties had started a joint refusal to accept new cases until they were paid for their earlier work.  (Lawmakers respond as lawyers stop taking cases,” Providence Journal/Associated Press, by Ken Maguire, 08-18-03, free registration needed for access)  The group Suffolk Lawyers for Justice annouced the boycott last Thursday (see our posting on July 15)..

ProJo.Com/AP also reported that the legislation was sent to Gov. Mitt Romney, who was out of state, and that “Deborah Gibbs, program director for Suffolk Lawyers for Justice, said the group won’t go back to work until the governor signs the bill.”  (emphasis added)   In a posting on July 17, ethicalEsq? argued that the group boycott violates the antitrust law.


Globe Probe of Lawyer Angst

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:06 am

This morning’s Boston Globe has an article about the large number of lawyers who are questioning and abandoning the profession — or wish they had the courage to do it.  (“Pleas of frustration,” by Ralph Ranalli, 8/18/03).  It’s worth a read, if only to confirm your own queasiness about the profession, understand the feelings of your colleagues, or empathize with those who feel shackled by golden handcuffs to a career that does not seem to offer the expected financial or psychic rewards.

One lawyer mentioned in the article, Jeanne Terranova, is leaving the profession after 11 years and graduated this summer from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.  (Feeling any envy?)

The Globe reports that:

“The happiest lawyers these days, legal career specialists say, are those who have figured out that the old promise of a law career as both lucrative and personally rewarding is no longer guaranteed. Many are lucky just to have a choice between one or the other.”

“Harvard Law School’s director of student life counseling, Mark L. Byers, said he tells the school’s graduates to think carefully about who they are before figuring out what kind of lawyer they want to be. “They need to really try to figure out their core values and decide whether they still match those in the profession,” Byers said.”

If you’ve got attorney angst, you  might want to check out the website Lawyers in Transition.

Update (8/19/03): Commenting on the Boston Globe article, LegalReader says “What was traditionally a noble and rewarding profession has been largely converted to a public joke and a personal nightmare by a relatively few lawyers’ greed and blind ambition.” 

This Editor believes that it is insufficient loyalty to the client’s interests (over the lawyer’s financial interests), along with inadequate diligence and competence, on the part of a large percentage of the profession that has made it mistrusted and maligned by the public. 

The situation is not new, but has existed for centuries.  Here in the 3rd Millennium, a more assertive populace and more insistent media coverage have made it more difficult for lawyers to live in denial about the profession’s hollow middle, while congratulating themselves on their dignity and social status.  We’ve lost the respect of the public one client at a time and can only regain it one client at a time.  The few notorious bad apples need to be rooted out, but they are not the cause of the overall malaise among the legal profession.

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