Fact checking should be the backbone of every lawyer. I’m wondering why so many politicians, many of whom are lawyers, fail to fact check, or if they do fact check, fail to tell the full truth in their assertions.
Below is a list of "fact checkers" concerning recent assertions by politicians. Knowing that no political group is immune from "truth" distortions, we’ll see what the Dem list looks like after their convention. We’ll see if the distortions/lies are about the same issues.
Clint Eastwood says lawyers shouldn’t be president in reference to Obama, but Romney is a lawyer as well. And as a profession, lawyers have made the greatest contribution to this country. It’s truly sad when we as voters cannot rely as factual what is being said and then focus on the issues and values of each perspective. Can we get back to what is truly important?
I have been getting more calls from lawyers wanting to retire, wanting to sell their law practices. As a result, I started writing a new book. I just finished Life After Law: What Will You Do With the Rest of Your Life? It is being edited now and will be available for sale in October.
As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the definition of Goodwill, the primary asset a lawyer has to sell. And though it is not consistent with the accounting profession’s definition, I have come upon a new definition that I believe is more meaningful to the average lawyer, whether buying or selling:
Goodwill can be defined as legacy … it’s your legacy that you’re passing along to others … It’s your reputation, your phone number, your system and way of doing business, all the intangible elements that made you successful and provides you, the selling lawyer, with what to sell … The better is your reputation, the more value your law practice will have.
Judge Lippman, Chief Judge of the New York Appeals Court, announced a pro bono requirement to gain admission to the New York Bar. Every new lawyer will have to prove their performance of 50 hours of pro bono practice before being admitted to the New York state bar. Mandatory pro bono is now a reality in New York.
He said, "If pro bono is a core value of our profession, and it is—and if we aspire for all practicing attorneys to devote a meaningful portion of their time to public service, and they should—these ideals ought to be instilled from the start, when one first aspires to be a member of the profession."
His first error of judgement, in my opinion, is to conclude that pro bono is a "core value" of the legal profession. While many lawyers "give" many hours freely of their time and expertise, it is not the essence or "core value" of the legal profession. This has been substantiated many times over when bar associations call on their members to provide free services for low and moderate income people. Many do step up to the plate. But, not all. Thus, it’s obviously not a core value of the profession.
He then said that "We think that if you want that privilege, that honor of practicing law in the state of New York…then you are going to have to demonstrate that you believe in our values." He is really saying that if you want to practice law in NY, you better meet my values. Interesting that he says that practicing law is a privilege, not a right. Seems as though we’re taking a test to get our driving license. Driving a car is a privilege and in order to get you on the streets, you need certain requirements. I guess Judge Lippman equates getting a law license with a driver’s license.
Why does this new requirement apply only to new lawyers? Why doesn’t this requirement apply to all lawyers in NY, even those who have been practicing for a few years? Judge Lippman’s excuse for this discriminatory practice is that existing lawyers’ practices are very diverse and some lawyers already are having difficulty earning enough money to put food on the table. Thus, they should be excused from this requirement. The real reason is that the Judge would have a rebellion on his hands if he tried to spread the requirement to all present lawyers in the state.
I’ve talked about internships for lawyers. We’ve discussed articling in Canada. And now I find out that the State of Georgia has a mandatory mentoring program for brand new lawyers. Perhaps we’re not so far away from the internship process. On the other hand, since Georgia has been working this path for quite a few years and others have yet to follow, perhaps it’s still a pipe dream that even the current recession won’t make happen at either the law school or Bar level. It may still take the combination of law firms and client demands to create an effective post-law school education program for learning how to become a lawyer.
I had the pleasure of keynoting a recent conference sponsored by LexisNexis. During a panel discussion among practitioners, technology consultant and myself, the topic of the cost of new technology was discussed. One of the suggestions I made was that the successful law firm of the future will use technology to create and enhance its effort at knowledge management. The firm that is able to retrieve its pre-existing knowledge and use it again will be more efficient, reduce its costs and therefore provide excellent results for clients at a lower price.
Then, the question arises: Who owns the knowledge, who owns the forms, the precedent knowledge? Does the client who paid for it own it? Does the law firm own it? Or does the lawyer who created it own it? This becomes more important in an age of greater lateral movement.
Some clients have as a condition of engagement that they (the client) own the intellectual property … and that the law firm must share it with other law firms who handle the client’s affairs (e.g., product liability litigation) in other parts of the country.
Do you have a firm policy on this? What do you do concerning your intellectual property when a lawyer leaves your firm? Is your policy different when the lawyer is a partner as contrasted to when the lawyer is an associate?
For the second day in a row, the WSJ ragged on lawyers. It’s front page headline says "How to Surgically Remove Lawyers From Hospitals" …. Without reading more than the front page headline, one would think that lawyers are a problem for hospitals and need to be removed … and here’s how to do it.
But, when you turn to the Personal Journal section of the paper, the article talks about hospitals’ negligence and the fact that many deaths and serious injuries/illnesses are caused by the hospitals and their staffs after the patients enter for other maladies than that which resulted in death.
The writer states that some hospitals are admitting their negligence and approaching the patients and their families with apologies and financial offerings that make sense. Under such circumstances, of course, the patients don’t need to work with lawyers … and that’s one way of keeping lawyers out of the discussion. (There are other issues here from the perspective of the patient’s protection; that’s a subject for another time.)
The real reason for the lawyer is that the institution denies culpability and seeks to stonewall the injured party. What a novel idea — actually talk to the injured party, admit responsibility and seek to negotiate/mediate a solution acceptable to all parties.
That, however, is not the tone of the headline, nor the attitude of the newspaper. Too bad. Truth should be the standard, not paper sales. I should admit that the headline is not false, just conveys the wrong impression of the article’s content.