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[A] rush to open the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers is not the solution [to the justice gap]. This would cause grave harm to clients. Even matters that appear simple, such as uncontested divorces, involve myriad legal rights and responsibilities. If the case is not handled by a professional with appropriate legal training, a person can suffer serious long-term consequences affecting loved ones or financial security.
Mr. Vance performed well. The collateral damage to the career of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who resigned in disgrace from the I.M.F., was clearly unfair, but that was caused largely by his sensational arrest, which Mr. Vance had no choice about effecting….
Given the attention paid to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, Mr. Vance deserves enormous credit for pulling the plug on a highly publicized prosecution, especially since he could foresee the political damage to himself.
State bar associations could help address [low-income Americans' need for legal services] by requiring lawyers to report their pro bono service — such disclosure would likely increase many lawyers’ service to the recommended 3 percent to 5 percent of their paid work. Another step is to allow nonlawyers into the mix. The American Bar Association has insisted that only lawyers can provide legal services, but there are many things nonlawyers should be able to handle, like processing uncontested divorces.
* Interesting historical perspective from Professor Dave Hoffman on the current debate over legal education. One critic wrote that “there are too many lawyers in this country,” “many of them are not busy,” and “many of them are on the margin of starvation” — back in 1932. [Concurring Opinions]
THINGS I KNOW: Your name is Katherine
(or Catherine). You are a lawyer. You live in my building,
on either the 9th or 11th floor. We have talked only once,
but have been in the elevator
together 2 times
THINGS I DO NOT KNOW: How I
can get to know you
I am not proud to admit this, but it is possible that my three-year-old niece knows more about branding than I do. I learned this the other day when I was reading my niece one of her favorite books, Fancy Nancy.
For those of you who not know Nancy, she is a little girl who loves to dress fancy, act fancy and talk fancy. For example, this little girl does not say that her favorite color is purple. She prefers fuchsia, a word that is “fancy” for purple. Similarly, Nancy does not want a new hairdo. No, Nancy uses the fancy word “coiffure” instead. For some reason, my niece loves Nancy, but I think she is a showoff. When asked why she loves the know-it-all Nancy, my niece explained that she made things sound better.
Maybe my niece had a point. If you want your small firm to sound better, then use fancy words. As Nancy would explain, do not call yourself a “trial lawyer.” Everyone knows that “litigator” is fancy for trial lawyer. Or is it?
Here at Above the Law, we’ve been discussing problems with the current law school model for quite some time now. My colleague Elie Mystal, for example, has railed against the high cost of law school, the crippling debt taken on by many law students, and the scarcity of jobs waiting for them on the other side.
By now we’re all aware of the problems. What about possible solutions?
And now comes the part in our story where law school administrations, stung by the criticism they just received in the New York Times, start spinning. Yes, yesterday the Times exposed the law school business model to a horrified public of non-lawyers. Today, law schools are obligated to say, “No, no, no, that’s not our business model.”
It’s a perfect response. Law students already believe that they are special and will somehow overcome various odds stacked against them, and so they are particularly susceptible to the argument that while other law schools might have problems, the school they picked is the honorable school standing apart from the disreputable actions of others.
It’s like when women say “I have the best husband in the world.” Sure, 90% of husbands hate chick flicks, wish there was a way to get a hot meal without listening to your BS, and would bone Angelina Jolie 30 times in a row before they even remembered your name, but you found the best husband evah! Because you are so damn smart and discerning.
A bunch of law schools have tried to distinguish themselves from New York Law School since this weekend’s article, but the most outstanding example of this kind of distancing comes from: New York Law School….
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