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

June 1, 2005

counsellor or mercenary?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:50 pm

I often wish legal ethics experts would engage in a bit more lawyer bashing.

Today, Legal Ethics Forum‘s John Steele pointed out that “Students are

suing their way to become valedictorians, says this New Yorker article.”

Then, he went on to say:

Now, I can lawyer bash with the best of them, but isn’t this

another case where people were out of control before they

called for lawyers?


In response, I’d like to add these excerpts by Sol Linowitz to my WISTful

quotation –Wish I Said That — collection (Betrayed Profession, DCBA

Briefs, from June 1999):   

“Elihu Root . . . put the matter more simply: ‘About half the practice

of a decent lawyer,’ he once said, ‘consists in telling would-be clients

that they are damned fools and should stop.’


“Today there are too few lawyers who see it as part of their function

to tell clients (especially new clients) that they are damned fools and

should stop: Any such statement would interfere with the marketing

program. The public pays, because the rule of law is diminished. “


SolLinowitz Later in the same chapter, titled “Living the Law,” Linowitz


“The doctrine that professionalism means respect for the client’s

‘autonomy’ and commands doing whatever the client wants is,

after all, most convenient. Nobody ever lost a client by doing

exactly what the fellow wanted, but much lucrative legal work

has been sacrificed by lawyers who regretfully told prospective

clients that this was something they were not willing to do.”

Thanks again, Lawyer Linowitz.


update (June 6, 2005): Ted Frank has more on the Valedictorian

lawsuit craze, including links to prior coverage at Overlawyered.


afterthought (June 6, 2005):  It just occurred to me that there are  %key small

probably quite a few lawyers who would be salivating at the facts

surrounding the selection of the valedictorian the year I graduated

from high school.   The school selected the valedictorian based on

who has the highest grade average — out of 100%.  However, it used

the last report card prior to final exams.  The boy selected, named

Paul, was only 0.1% ahead of the #2 boy.   However, after finals,

Paul slipped down and was 0.1% behind the Real Number One. 

Nonetheless, Paul was deemed Valedictorian.  The real Number

One was skinny little Dave Giacalone.  He got to give the Saluta-

tory speech, however, and got some satisfaction just knowing he

had squeaked past Paul.  This was 1967, and I’m pretty sure that

most lawyers would have called Dave crazy, had he ever conceived

of a lawsuit.     



after speaking importantly
  she quickly resumes
  sucking her thumb


         Tom Clausen from Homework


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