"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New survival tricks of law schools further expose the sham of attorney regulation - on ownership of law schools by law firms

It has been a trend for a while that law schools are losing students and lower admission standards, and while the legal job market continues to plummet - because there are simply not enough paying clients, and because people increasingly cannot afford high legal fees that have to incorporate the cost of legal education.

Recently, some deans of California law schools whose students had a high failure rate on the bar exam accused the bar examiners of putting standards too high.

Increasingly, there are lawsuits by law students against their law schools alleging that they were lured into incurring debt for 3 years of law schools by misleading law school statistics regarding employment rates of their graduates.

Law schools, in answer to such lawsuits, claim that law students enter law schools with open eyes and should have known about their job market prospects - and so far, law schools have won such lawsuits.

Yet, such lawsuits, and the general market tendencies of legal jobs market, do not help future enrollment, and law schools try to invent tricks to wiggle out of regulation in order to survive financially.

One of such tricks is to accept GRE scores instead of LSAT scores for enrollment - even Harvard Law School is doing it now.

Another, just recently, was proposed by a law professor - for law schools to be OWNED by law firms.

While a law professor would have a vested interest for law schools (in their current format) to survive, the concept of ownership of law schools by law firms runs contrary to the declared purpose of attorney regulation in the first place (that keeps falling through the cracks) - protection of consumers, quality of legal services.

If standards of legal education are to be maintained in order to protect consumers, it is consumers and not providers who need to set those standards - that should be a given, but somehow this common sense concept is not implemented in attorney regulation across the country.

If legal education (required by regulators in order - ostensibly - to protect consumers of legal services) is OWNED by providers of legal services - it is apparent that it is not consumers' interests, but interests of providers that would be dictated and met by such legal education, and interests of a provider of services and of a consumer of such services may be vastly different, especially in terms of scope and price of services.

A provider has an interest to provide
  1. the narrowest scope of service,
  2. with the least innovation,
  3. at the highest price possible.

A consumer has the opposite interest on all three points above.

Of course, the law professor suggesting ownership of law schools by law firms argues actually that ownership by law firms (whose interest is to provide, once again,

  1. the narrowest scope of service,
  2. with the least innovation,
  3. at the highest price possible -

To a point, I am glad that such a proposal was made - and, by a law professor, too, because it simply makes the current status quo of law schools, already heavily sponsored by law firms (which is as good as owned by them) more apparent.

It is very clear that having foxes guard chicken coops is not going to work - it will create problems, not resolve them.

In the U.S., heavy regulation of the market of legal services has already caused, and ever expands the "justice gap", where the majority of Americans cannot afford a lawyer, while not being able to hire who they want (like any individual they trust, on a power of attorney), to represent them in court or draft a legal document for them.

As I wrote before, such regulation by legal profession to allegedly protect the consumer of legal services makes no sense in the first place because of the concept of presumption of knowledge of the law BY ALL people in the U.S.

It does not make sense for the government:

  • to presume that all people know all the law  - in order to put them in jail; but
  • to presume that the same people do not know the law - for purposes of hiring their own legal representatives, including for the defense in the same criminal actions where their knowledge of the law is presumed for purposes of criminal liability.

As the saying goes, desperate people do desperate things, but in this particular situation, the desperate thing suggested - to sell law schools out to law firms - strips the fig leaf of alleged consumer protection as the justification of why law school education in a certain way is even required for legal representatives of consumers, overriding consumers' free choice of their own providers to protect themselves the way they want it.

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