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

April 16, 2004

FInancial & Gift Planning Resources from HALT

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 4:44 pm

Lifetimes: A Financial and Charitable Planning Guide and newsletter is available on the website of the legal-consumer reform group HALT.  They describe Lifetimes in this month’s HALT ejournal (which I wish they would put on their website for direct linking):

HALT is pleased to bring its members and the general public Lifetimes: A Financial and Charitable Planning Guide. This newsletter, available on HALT’s Web site, is a free online resource that provides explanations, tips and recent news about planned giving topics such as charitable lead trusts, retirement income plans, tax benefits of giving real estate, appreciated property and much more. Here are some of the most recent additions to the Lifetimes newsletter:

  • Perhaps you are in a financial position to provide for HALT now but prefer to save the personal benefits from such a gift for a future time, when your own needs may change. Deferred gifts often provide a path to the future for you and for HALT. Find out how several options can work for you in the Lifetimes article “Deferred Gifts: Hurry Up and Wait!

  • Also, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 has proved to have an enormous impact on the lives of many people. In fact, it is possible the changing estate tax will play a role in your estate plans as well. Read “Estate Tax Changes Provide Additional Savings” to lessen any confusion.

In addition to these new articles, visit the Lifetimes eBrochures, which are available-as always-to read or download for free. Go to the article titled “Discover Valuable Assets With Our Free eBrochures” to find out more. You can also find out the many ways to give to HALT on our Give to HALT page

Here are some direct links to Lifetimes resource pages:

Ways to Give
What to Give
Reading Room
Glossary of Terms
Gift Calculator
Goals & Gifts

A Deadly Argument for Diligence?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:28 am

There’s nothing funny about a murdered lawyer and a client arrested as the alleged killer, but that’s the story from Auburn, Washington. (Seattle Times, “Client arrested in beating that killed Auburn lawyer,” 04-15-04)  The Seattle Times reports that attorney William W. Messer was found dead in his office and that:

“Police said the suspect was one of Messer’s clients and met with Messer at 5:30 p.m., Monday. The two argued, and the suspect left Messer’s office at 1340 M St. S.E. He returned later and clubbed Messer to death, according to a police news release.”

  • In a testament to the swiftness of internet communication, the South King County Bar Association told its 250 members of Messer’s death, in an emailed newsletter, prior to the official identification of the victim by the police and Coroner. (King County Journal, “Auburn lawyer found killed,” 04-14-04)

We don’t know if the unidentified, 42-year old client is guilty, nor why he had argued with Messer, a bankruptcy and personal injury lawyer, admitted to practice in 1978, who appears to be a solo practitioner.  Perhaps Messer confronted the accused with suspicions about the break-ins.  However, an article in New York Lawyer noted that

Messer was admonished in December, the mildest discipline given by the Washington State Bar Association, for failing to appear at a bankruptcy hearing, resulting in repossession of a car from two of his clients, records showed. 

More troubling (and somewhat surprising given the freshness of his death), the article reports that “Other bankruptcy lawyers said they had taken over cases from Messer because clients were upset about the way he was representing them.” (NYL/AP, “Lawyer Beaten to Death, Client Arrested,” 04-15-04)   A Discipline Notice on the WSBA website confirms the admonition, “effective January 21, 2004 for failing to diligently represent a client.”

sailboat neg  Messer was apparently divorced last year and was to marry May 1st.  I don’t have any first-hand information about his reputation or practice habits, or whether he has been going through tough times that affected his lawyering.  It would, however, be a terrible lesson for the bar if a disgruntled client, due to unsatisfactory service or an adverse result caused by lawyer neglect, responded with deadly rage.  

Every client is owed diligence and competence.  However, in cases where clients are emotionally distraught (as is often the case in personal bankruptcy, divorce, and personal injury cases), it is especially important that lawyers act with diligence and respect — with people skills, as well as professional skills and temperament.   Perhaps, Bill Messer’s death will help remind other lawyers going through travails in their own personal lives that there are programs to help them keep their practices on an even keel while they weather their own storms.

  • sailboat red  One bankruptcy lawyer who I don’t think will ever have to worry about enraged clients, nor lack of diligence, is Sherry Fowler, a/k/a Scheherazade.  Sherry has been musing in public about zagging away from the practice of law, just three years out of law school.   The cliched response — and a valid one — is that the legal profession needs more people like Sherry (smart, caring, hard-working).  But, I think she should be asking what’s good for Scheherazade — the artful storyteller, entrepeneur, star-gazer and collector of friends and tales — not what’s good for the profession. 

    • Thirty years after starting law school, I have seen far too many men and women with legal careers, who didn’t listen to their hearts, when the inner voice said it was time to zag, chase, dreams, spread their wings and their sails.  Soon, golden handcuffs, or family responsibilities, or inertia tied them to a career that might engage their brains (occasionally), or their competitive juices, but didn’t nurture their spirit. 

    • So, I’m hoping that Scheherazade will (1) listen to her heart; (2) have the courage of her own convictions and faith in her many talents; and (3) keep talking to her friends regularly at scheherazade.org.  Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of this inevitable story.

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