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

March 22, 2005

help me, lord

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:45 pm

help me, chaplain:  Tallahassee pesonal injury lawyer David A. Barrett decided to 

hire an ordained minister as a “paralegal,” whose duties were to help solicit clients,

especially at hospitals.  I’m pleased to say that the Florida Supreme Court has decided

that a one-year suspension was not sufficient punishment for Barrett’s ethical violations,

and instead disbarred him, adding a stern warning to other lawyers attempting to

solicit especially vulnerable clients: 

ambulance  “This type of violation brings dishonor and disgrace not only upon

the attorney who has broken the rules but upon the entire legal profession,

a burden that all attorneys must bear since it affects all of our reputations.  

Moreover, such violations harm people who are already in a vulnerable condition,

which is one of the very reasons these types of solicitations are barred.  Therefore,

this Court will strictly enforce the rules that prohibit these improper solicitations

and impose severe sanctions on those who commit violations of them.” 

The Florida Bar v. Barrett, ___ So.2d ___ (Fla., No. SC03-375, 3/17/2005) (via sunEthics)

Click here for a transcript of arguments before the Court, part of the Gavel2Gavel coverage

offered by WSFU, the local PBS and NPR affiliate.


sin after sin. . .

the old priest

stifles a yawn


          ED MARKOWSKI, from pop up

                                    tribe press, 2004


tiny check  help me help myself:   A report by the Judicial Council of California has very good news:

Self-help centers in state trial courts are helping thousands of Californians who need legal

assistance and cannot afford an attorney:

“The report is good news for the courts and all Californians,” said William C.   scales rich poor neg

Vickrey, Administrative Director of the Courts. “For the past decade, the number

of people coming to courts without lawyers has grown dramatically, especially in

family law cases. Self-help centers are meeting the critical need for legal information

by removing economic barriers that prevent access to our courts. In addition, these

programs are making our courts more efficient and are improving public trust and

confidence in our justice system.” (via selfhelpsupport.org)

Of course, as we pointed out in 2003 when discussing programs in Nevada, and as has been

acknowledged by the New Hampshire courts,  it’s not just the poor who benefit from such coordinated

self-help effforts — every American has the right to represent himself or herself and our justice

system, to the extent possible.  With programs like those in California and Nevada leading the

way, there is no excuse for other states to put off joining the self-help revolution.  The “lawyer tax

can be greatly reduced for those who want to enter to the civil justice system.




bright lit

Amish windows


         ED MARKOWSKI, from pop up
                                  tribe press, 2004



tiny check  help me, librarian:   An evaluation of computer-based self-help programs in Alaska includes good

advice to those wanting to embark upon a similar project: “[E]xplore the creation of a three-way

partnership between the local legal services organization, the court (that being the pro se

service department and the law library), and the local public library system

We feel that libraries could and should be involved because facilitating

access to information for the public is what they do, and the Internet’s

spawning of public use terminals has meant that the libraries are developing

extraordinary expertise in the technological side of providing these services

to the public”



ekg  help me avoid the AmLaw 100:   I say “bravo!” to the large corporations that are developing 

technology that will greatly reduce their legal bills. See AdamSmithEsq, March 21, 2005.   Once

developed and refined, it will surely spread, and trickled down to smaller companies and consumers. 

If (as I have often argued) much of what lawyers do can be done using sophisticated (or even non-

sophisticated) technology, it is not the role of the bar, or of individual firms and lawyers, to discourage

clients from seeking the efficiencies brought about the digital revolution.  From the client’s point of

new, it is progress, even if there will be occasions when paying more for legal advice would have yielded

a better result.  Making that trade-off is the client’s right. Yes, this will be “disruptive” for many lawyers,

but that reality does not change our duty to put the clients’ interests first — to act like a learned profession

rather than a guild. 



tiny check  help me keep my assignments:  I’m not surprised that a representative of assigned counsel in

Massachusetts opposes moving to a public defender system for indigent criminal defendants. 

(The Springfield Republican,”Legal compensation raise argued,”  March 22, 2005) However, I

continue to believe that an adequately-funded and supervised public defender system will mean

higher quality representation in general for the indigent client.


tiny check  help me cover-up my sins: Walter Olson has an amazing follow-up to the Texas girlfriend-

on-the-jury story.  It’s so good, I’ll let him tell you here.  (our prior post)



from dagosan,

big thaw overnight –


on the river

                                   [March 22, 2005]

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