Archive for November, 2015

Sloppy or Misleading

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

I’ve posted several times about judicial reprimands for sloppy work. Indeed, there’s a “Consequences of Sloppiness” category. Above the Law notes a recent “benchslap” for sloppiness on the part of government in a post entitled, “Judge Loses Patience With Government’s Sloppy Work.” However, the article makes it clear that the judge’s concern went beyond mere sloppiness. She writes that the government exhibited a pattern of “sloppiness” that “in sum” the sloppiness “represents a systematic pattern of the Commission picking the wrong conclusion from the evidence.” If this is the case, the problem goes well beyond sloppiness to a matter of serious ethical concern.

There used to be a commercial in which the tag line was “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature>” The fact is that most judges are fairly intelligent. It’s not nice to attempt to fool them in this way and they are not likely to be fooled by it. The consequences may go well beyond the consequences of mere sloppiness.

Monday, November 16th, 2015

According to an article at Examiner.com, “the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an Order which gives legitimacy to Rule 429 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR) and creates the Board of Paralegal Certification where paralegals can voluntarily apply to become certified with the State of South Carolina. According to the Supreme Court, ‘The purpose of certification of South Carolina’s paralegals is to assist in the delivery of legal services to the public by identifying individuals who are qualified by education, training, and experience and who have demonstrated knowledge, skill, and proficiency to perform substantive legal work under the direction and supervision of a lawyer licensed in South Carolina.’ ”

There are a lot of reasons why this is good, most of which are well stated by the article (which at times reads more like an opinion column than just a news report,) “South Carolina has taken a huge step toward filling the gap to making legal services more affordable to the economically challenged. Hopefully, the future will be brighter for paralegals with degrees that are forced to compete with non-degreed paralegals for jobs while carrying the burden of an ever increasing student loan with aspirations of making their mark as a paralegal with a law firm or corporation. Today, many have found themselves hopeless in their never ending quest to find an employer that would recognize their talents and creativity in legal matters. South Carolina should be applauded for creating the Board of Paralegal Certification which may someday be like the program in the State of Washington which has Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) who represent clients before judges in small claims, divorce, and probate proceedings. The State of California and several other states are seriously considering an LLLT program to bring the cost of legal services down and make it more affordable for those in need with very little resources.”

Washington State Bar Board Members Resign

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

According to ABAJournal.com the Washington State Bar Association’s Practice of Law Board has been hit with mass resignations and departures as a result of a long-running feud with the bar association’s leaders. The article states, “On Monday, former board members released an 11-page letter (PDF) accusing the executive director of the state bar of pursuing “a campaign to eliminate the Practice of Law Board” over differences in philosophy on how to bridge the access-to-justice gap in the state.”

So why does this matter to us and why am I posting about it here? It’s this part of the story, “The letter traced the POLB’s problems with the WSBA to the debate over the Limited License Legal Technician Rule, which allows non-JD legal professionals to deliver limited legal services in certain designated practice areas. The rule, proposed by the POLB and opposed by the bar’s Board of Governors, became state law in 2012.
“The Washington State Bar Association has a long record of opposing efforts that threaten to undermine its monopoly on the delivery of legal services,” the four resigning board members wrote. The 13-person POLB is now down to four as a result of resignations and terms that were not extended.”

This is a battle being fought in several jurisdictions. One take on the issue is whether Bar Associations can ethically take positions that favor the interest of the bar over the interest of the public the bar is supposedly serving. But, my take is that fighting programs to solve the access to justice problem in the U.S., is not in the interest of the Bar.