I wonder if the California State Bar will ever be able to understand that. Now, the bar says that paraprofessionals cannot have an interest in a law firm. This is a 180-degree turn from his initial recommendation last year that it would be OK under certain circumstances. No more. Would the bar decide? I understand that the original proposal was made before the chairmen of the Judicial Committees of the Senate and the Assembly expressed their dissatisfaction with the original proposal. I think that the bar has failed in this respect, because the Legislature controls the strings of the State Bar purse. We all remember what happened if we upset our parents - without allowance.
Readers know that I am not reluctant to slap the State Bar, but I try to congratulate them where appropriate, and there are two proposals that the State Bar has made that should be approved. The first is that the State Bar has proposed extending the Provisional Licensing Program until the end of this year. Although it officially expired on June 1, 2022, the hope is that the California Supreme Court will extend it until the end of the year.
The second proposal is the creation of the Office of the People’s Advocate which will function as an “independent, impartial and confidential resource to ensure that complaints concerning State Bar staff or actions are fully and impartially examined”. This is more than just a response to Girardi’s anger. The office will also help educate and assist legal consumers and the public in identifying available resources. Not everything that happens amounts to a formal complaint against a lawyer. We hope that the office will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, so that the system can focus on the serious misconduct of the lawyers that justifies the discipline.
While the Ombuds Office will initially focus on complaints and admissions regarding the discipline of lawyers, another task will be to develop and oversee a public education plan designed to provide legal consumers and the public with knowledge of their legal rights.
Forty years ago (yes, it was a long time ago, and I still remember) the State Bar had a community education program that did just that. The bar had a number of excellent pamphlets on a variety of legal concepts that were distributed statewide and there was always a buzz for several from legal service providers, lawyers, libraries, courts and others. The brochures were informative and written in plain English.
I was on the State Bar Committee that worked with the community education department, and my client at the time supported the publication of several pamphlets. However, the State Bar, in its finite wisdom, cut the program short, and now we are 40 years later, reinventing the wheel. I would imagine that there are no pamphlets in the ground and they obviously need updating, but really? Another example of dealing only with the short-term needs and whims of legislative supervisors and bar management.
If public protection was the mantra of the State Bar, then, as it is now, when the State Bar gave up the program, it turned upside down. Here was a positive way to get in touch with the public, to help them understand their legal rights, and that lawyers are often not bad people that everyone (even then) thought they were. The state bar has dropped the program on its knees. How ironic that he did not realize the value of educating the public about the law and what lawyers can and cannot do. We hope that the revival of the program will include enough ways to meet the needs of those who know computers and those who are not.
Now, more than ever, the public needs more education about what lawyers do, what the law is, and how to best understand these concepts. (Understand that there was no internet, Facebook, Twitter and so on in the old days.) If the State Bar is really serious about community education now, then it should move immediately. Time is wasted.
Speaking of non-social media, it’s so nice to know that I’m not the only lawyer who hates Twitter. In an unscientific ATL survey, more than half of the respondents said that the use of Twitter for networking and business development was poor, and that 75% of respondents thought that Twitter had a negative effect on our democracy. . Do you think Elon Musk cares?
At least among those lawyers who responded, Twitter is the social networking site that lawyers like to hate. To put it bluntly, I had nothing to do with the survey and did not manipulate the results. They point out that Twitter is a real time saver for low-value networking or business development lawyers.
Once upon a time, before Twitter, or even before e-mail, if you wanted to know about something and didn’t want to get caught up in the endless loop of voice or voice recognition software, you had to think about it. what would you say, write a letter (either typed or handwritten - does anyone else know what handwriting is?), find a stamp (what is this?) and then mail it from any location they still had mailboxes. Nowadays, in Twitterverse, it’s simply “ready, shoot, aim” and everything you said is there for the world to see. It’s usually not a pretty picture. At least I don’t think so.
Jill Switzer has been an active member of the California State Bar for over 40 years. He remembers practicing law at a milder time. She has had a diverse legal career, including tenure as Deputy Prosecutor, a solo practice and several in-house concerts. Now he intervenes full time, which gives him the opportunity to see dinosaurs, millennials and those in the middle interacting - he is not always civilized. You can contact her by email at [email protected].