f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 22, 2004

We Like SWA, L.L.P.

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:30 pm

silly jet


Larry Bodine at LawMarketingBlog invites us to imagine what a law firm would be like if it were run like Southwest Airlines.   Like Larry, I think such a law firm would be great for clients and employees.    Among the characteristics listed, a law firm run like SWA:

We Like SWA, L.L.P.

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:30 pm

silly jet


Larry Bodine at LawMarketingBlog invites us to imagine what a law firm would be like if it were run like Southwest Airlines.   Like Larry, I think such a law firm would be great for clients and employees.    Among the characteristics listed, a law firm run like SWA:

Should Substance Abuse Affect Bar Admission?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:40 pm

The topic of substance abuse and bar admission is discussed at length in the current edition of the ABA’s Student Lawyer magazine, in “Under the Influence,” by Cynthia L. Cooper. (December 2003, Vol. 32, No. 4).  The opening lines are an understatement:

martini Drug and alcohol dependence affects law student’s health and their prospects for bar admission. Law schools and legal groups are working to raise awareness of the problem and develop solutions, but the task isn’t easy.

As we discussed in a posting last June, the numbers show that substance abuse is a major problem for both lawyers and law students.  The article notes:

  • There are “15,000 law students nationwide who acknowledge problem drinking. Uncalculated are the number who get into trouble when they inhale, shoot, snort, or pop their substances.”
  • “Studies indicate that lawyers engage in higher-than-average drug and alcohol abuse, affecting from 15 percent to 18 percent of the profession, compared with 10 percent of the general population.
  • Disciplinary bodies discover that chemical dependency problems are at the root of 40 percent to 70 percent of complaints about lawyers, says New York state Chief Judge Judith Kaye, president of the Conference of Chief Justices. . . . ‘I believe the court system owes it to the public to do all we can.'”

Judge Kaye’s numbers may be a bit high, as substance abuse is often an excuse given by lawyers who are trying to minimize their responsibility for unethical conduct, and gain sympathy.  Still, it seems clear that the problem is big enough to warrant significant attention by those responsible for admission and discipline within the profession

coffee cup The article says that “To encourage law school deans to take action on chemical dependency, the ABA outreach committee opened a hotline, printed stickers and advertisements, and is developing an informational kit.”   Also, James Moore, chair of the New York State Lawyer Assistance Trust, advises schools to have a written policy to address alcohol and drug use, serve less alcohol at student functions, create relationships with the Lawyer Assistance Programs that now exist in every state, (in order to help students confidentially), warn students that an unaddressed problem may affect their ability to be admitted to practice, and enlist someone as a designated person for student assistance.

Naturally, the potential effect of recovery efforts on bar admission is crucial for many students.   The article states:

For the bar application process, most states require disclosure of legal infractions related to substance abuse, such as drunk-driving arrests; others inquire into substance abuse or treatment. Some establish a period of probation or other conditions to admission; others do not.

Some law students say their colleagues avoid treatment because they fear that getting help would send the wrong signals to bar examiners and result in denial of bar admission, by putting them on a blacklist. The ABA Law Student Division is helping to research and promote a “best practices” standard on recovery and bar admission.

What role should substance abuse problems and attempts at recovery play in the bar admission process?  I’m not sure and invite your comments.  Given the obvious harm to clients from lawyer misconduct related to substance abuse (from missed deadlines to misappropriated funds), the topic seems highly relevant to the fitness of a candidate.  Honesty on the topic should be demanded, of course, but a record of prior abuse problems should not be an automatic bar to admission.  Serious, successful attempts to “dump old drinking and drugging habits in the pursuit of professionalism” should be commended, not penalized.  Are probationary periods advisable and workable?

. . . .. Although substance abuse may no longer be stigmatized as a moral failing in our society, failing to get help and seriously work at recovery is an indication that an applicant to the bar, or a newly admitted member, is not taking his or her responsibility to clients, the courts or the bar seriously enough to warrant getting or keeping a license to practice law.   A generation of students who believe that binge drinking is a normal part of social life needs to do some growing up and reality testing while in law school.  I hope that the carrot of bar admission can be a sufficient incentive.

  • The June 2003 issue of the DC Bar’s magazine, Washington Lawyer, has a Bar Counsel column titled Factoring Disabilities Into Discipline: A Special Equation. In it, Joyce E. Peters explains the complications that arise when substance abuse, mental illness or other disabilities are brought into the disciplinary process.

Identity Theft Again Tops FTC Complaints List for 2003

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:29 pm

Today, the Federal Trade Commission released its Top Ten List of Consumer Complaints for 2003, as part of its report National and State Trends in Fraud and Identity Theft”. The press release states:

For the fourth year in a row, identity theft topped the list, accounting for 42 percent of the complaints lodged in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database. The FTC received more than half a million complaints in 2003, up from 404,000 in 2002, and Internet-related complaints accounted for 55 percent of all fraud reports, up from 45 percent in 2002.


  • Of the 516,740 complaints received in 2003, 301,835 were complaints about fraud and 214,905 were identity theft reports.
  • Identity theft reports represented 42 percent of all complaints, up from 40 percent in 2002.

  • police  Computer technology may be making fraud easier to perpetrate, but it is also helping to track the complaints and facilitate law enforcement.

    “Howard Beales, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection noted that in addition to the complaints consumers register directly with the FTC, other organizations, including the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, The National Consumers League’s National Fraud Information Center, Canada’s Phonebusters, and Better Business Bureaus contribute complaint data to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database.

    “More than 900 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Australia are using Consumer Sentinel, accessing one-and-a-half million consumer complaints through the Sentinel network,” Beales said. “They can coordinate actions, track down leads, and research other law enforcement tools. This model – one central source of consumer fraud data available to law enforcement, reflecting overall trends in fraud, ID theft, and emerging scams – is making our work more efficient for law enforcement and more effective for consumers.”

    Consumer Information:

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