Author Topic: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?  (Read 1707 times)

cooking

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Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« on: May 21, 2019, 09:51:59 AM »
Every day it seems we're hearing of the blatantly criminal acts committed by attorneys at the pinnacle of their professions and of the government.  Sometimes evidenced by tape recordings of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.  If you or I dreamed of acting this way in our practice, we would surely be disbarred.  So I keep wondering, why are the state bars to which these attorneys are admitted not acting to disbar them?

Does anyone else not find this conduct shockingly bad and a disgrace to the profession?  We all know who I'm talking about here, rhymes with John Dowd and Abbe Lowell. 

nereo

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2019, 10:06:03 AM »
PTF - as I've been wondering this too.  I'm not a lawyer, but my ex is, and I've heard many in that circle discussing the same thing.  In particular, the current approach by many advocates seems to violate the very rules for professional conduct laid out by the American Bar Association, specifically:
Quote
Rule 3.1 - Meritorious Claims & Contentions: A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.

It is my understanding that a lawyer could be disbarred for knowingly progressing a position which is frivolous, has no basis in law and does not include a good-faith argument.

cooking

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2019, 11:03:26 AM »
I agree with you completely on that one, Nereo.  I've been wondering why these recent frivolous lawsuits have not drawn sanctions of some sort. 

However, what I was really addressing in my post above was actual criminal conduct on the part of these lawyers.  It appears that there is solid, nearly irrefutable in some cases, evidence of intimidating witnesses, suborning perjury, obstructing justice.  From people who are not only considered officers of the court, but are among the most "respected" lawyers in the country!

I've always considered myself to be a rebel or heretic.  But now as I look at this behavior, I'm sounding like an establishment type.  I almost resent being forced to take this position.  And yet, all the rest of us are expected to abide by these rules while those at the top so flagrantly and shamelessly break them.  Surreal!  Am I just naive about the power structure that runs through everything?

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2019, 11:04:50 AM »
Every day it seems we're hearing of the blatantly criminal acts committed by attorneys at the pinnacle of their professions and of the government.  Sometimes evidenced by tape recordings of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.  If you or I dreamed of acting this way in our practice, we would surely be disbarred.  So I keep wondering, why are the state bars to which these attorneys are admitted not acting to disbar them?

Does anyone else not find this conduct shockingly bad and a disgrace to the profession?  We all know who I'm talking about here, rhymes with John Dowd and Abbe Lowell.

I don't pay that much attention to politics so I don't know who or what you are talking about.

With that caveat out of the way, I think our profession is like any other -- 98% of people are good actors, but it's the 2% who make the headlines for their corruption. For instance, there are a couple local fire chiefs in my county who are just unfuckingbelievable with their corruption, but I do not judge their profession based on that. There are also tons of headlines about teachers and getting into relationships with students, mayors who accepted bribes, etc. I don't judge all of these people.

To be totally honest, I am usually quite impressed with the quality of legal representation in my area. Maybe it's because it's more rural here, but it is very rarely extremely adversarial, and attorneys generally work to get things done. I've seen maybe 9 or 10 motions to compel filed in five years. It's very collegial and the work ethic is good.

I'm not optimistic that the rest of society would agree with me.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 11:08:05 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

NorCal

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2019, 04:49:22 PM »
Not a lawyer, but I used to sell software to the legal industry.  Then I shifted to selling services to bankers.  Prior to all this, I got shot at for a living in the US Army.

I liked bankers a lot better.  Bankers will stab you in the front, lawyers will stab you in the back.  Jihadists just try to blow you up from afar. 

The most blatantly unprofessional and unethical behavior I ever experienced (including from Jihadists) was from lawyers.  I found the plantiff's lawyers to be generally worse than defense lawyers.  But defense lawyers were still worse than bankers and Jihadists.

My last dealing with lawyer "customers" involved spending $2M in legal fees suing our customers for $350K in unpaid bills.

I actively root for the entire legal industry to be razed to the ground. 

Disclaimers and clarifications

I also married a lawyer, my MIL is a retired DA, and my FIL is a family law attorney.  When the three mentioned people are in the room, I LOVE lawyers. 

I am also eternally grateful for my wife's law firm salary contributions to our FI progress.  FI is MUCH more attainable due to the inherent legal conflicts of interest, self dealing, and corruption that exist within the industry.  I am only actively rooting for the destruction of the legal industry after we retire.

cooking

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2019, 06:03:55 PM »
Everybody hates lawyers.  Until they need one.  When you have to appear in court for whatever reason, it's vital to have someone on your side.

I guess I just hate corruption in all forms, in all professions.  Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I can't for the life of me understand why we tolerate all the corruption in public life.  I should be used to it since I'm from NJ, but it disgusts me on a deep level.  If anything goes, why do we bother keeping up the charade?

SwordGuy

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2019, 10:20:27 AM »
PTF - as I've been wondering this too.  I'm not a lawyer, but my ex is, and I've heard many in that circle discussing the same thing.  In particular, the current approach by many advocates seems to violate the very rules for professional conduct laid out by the American Bar Association, specifically:
Quote
Rule 3.1 - Meritorious Claims & Contentions: A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.

It is my understanding that a lawyer could be disbarred for knowingly progressing a position which is frivolous, has no basis in law and does not include a good-faith argument.

Hey, does that mean that legislators who vote for a law that is patently and obviously unconstitutional could be disbarred for it?

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2019, 10:54:47 AM »
Hey, does that mean that legislators who vote for a law that is patently and obviously unconstitutional could be disbarred for it?

Assuming we are talking about the recent abortion laws, I think the legislator probably has a good faith federalism argument in his or her corner. There is also an even better argument that if you believe your case deserves a reversal of existing precedent, that is in itself good faith conduct.

For example, I have a case right now where a court has ruled in another district that the alleged conduct against my client is not "extreme and outrageous" and does not present a nuisance.  I flat out think that decision is incorrect and co-counsel and I have thus proceeded with litigation anyway (with other claims as well).

I don't want to derail this thread, but to get more into this good faith argument -- my Con Law professor clerked for Justice Blackmon -- the Justice who wrote Roe v. Wade.  My professor's stance was, as a matter of constitutional law, Roe is at least arguably on shaky grounds and rests on assumptions -- substantive due process, the right to privacy, etc. -- that aren't really spelled out in the text of the Constitution, but are instead "implied."

This gets to the federalism debate earlier -- abortion was theoretically never meant to be a constitutional right, and the mere fact that the Supreme Court said such a right was "implied" 40ish years ago doesn't really hold water for a lot of people. So they have a good faith argument to overturn it.

The same applies for local states and municipalities passing gun laws in the face of Heller, or states passing campaign finance laws in defiance of Citizens United, etc.

(Just presenting the counterargument here).
« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 11:15:33 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

Nick_Miller

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2019, 11:41:46 AM »
No I don't. Most attorneys I know are fine people. There are some bad eggs, but that's not exactly unique to our profession.

There are PLENTY of shady doctors, investment managers, cops, politicians, and salespeople (think MLM, for example).

Hell, attorneys are the ones putting these SOBs in prison. 

cooking

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2019, 01:24:44 PM »
In those other professions, the practicioners are not officers of the court as attorneys are.  Although I see the concept being honored more in the breach in the case of the white house lawyers I mentioned.

Some lawyers may be locking up those who break the law, as they should.  But the white house lawyers instead seem to be participating in a coverup of crimes that are more and more evident even while the culprits twist themselves into pretzels talking about how everything they choose to do is legal b/c they're the ones doing it, and make a mockery of the law.

 As a lawyer, I believe that all criminal defendants deserve a legal defense.  (Even though, as I veer slightly off topic here, the same WH lawyers I'm talking about participate in a philosophy that always seems thrilled to do things like cutting funding for public defenders offices.  And they are more than happy to use corporate muscle and money to crush the powerless in any civil legal proceedings where their opponents can't afford a defense.  So their passionate devotion to legal defense for all might seem suspect.)  However, the lawyers I'm referring to here are acting like consiglieres in a criminal enterprise before our very eyes.  They've gone beyond defense to participation in the coverup, if not the crimes themselves.  And have you asked yourselves how much of this we're paying for through our tax money?  Not to mention the clogging of the court system with the nonsense claims.

I can't believe I'm the only one offended by the audacity of it all.  Although I am somewhat heartened by the fact that nearly 1000 former federal prosecutors have signed the letter saying that Trump's actions would have merited indictment if committed by anyone other than the president.  The question I'm trying to ask is, is anyone going to call out this shameful display by the lawyers?

Maybe a lot of you think I'm tilting at windmills, and that could be so.  But I have always asked myself why we have so much corruption, and how much it really costs. (And when I say costs, I just mean financially.  The soul-destroying and other costs can't even be measured.)  Maybe the answer is, we have corruption because we accept it.

zhelud

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2019, 03:23:14 PM »
I think American lawyers have done a lot in the past 2 years to be proud of. 
When the travel ban was announced in 2017, hundreds of volunteer lawyers camped on the floor in airport arrivals areas to advocate for people who were being detained and/or denied entry.
When the government started separating families at the US-Mexico border, thousands of volunteer lawyers stepped up to represent parents and children- and they still are (I know several of them, who are also busy with their regular jobs and families.)


six-car-habit

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2019, 05:42:31 PM »
 I'm not sure how Dowd + Lowell rhyme with Guiliani but i see a fair amount of unscrupulous behavior lately out of him.

 Also - just watched a movie " Mark Felt - man who [ helped]  bring down the white house "  about Watergate/ Nixon scandals  - and there was a vintage newsclip in it, of the then attorney general absolving the president and his cronies of any crimes on a broadcast TV speech.  Parrallels to 2019 ?

  Disclaimer - I am not a lawyer , just a disappointed american.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 05:45:27 PM by six-car-habit »

cooking

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2019, 06:56:34 PM »
This is one of the things I was talking about.  A U.S. District Court judge ordered the release of the audio of a voicemail left by John Dowd, Trump's criminal atty.  (When I say criminal atty., it reminds me of what Jessie Pinkman told Walter White about Saul Goodman in "Breaking Bad".  "I don't mean you need a criminal atty that way.  I mean you need a CRIMINAL atty.).  At any rate, the audio is now widely available for all to listen to as of today, in all its shamelessness.

On the audio, Dowd ID's himself and in his own voice, calls Michael Flynn's atty. and engages in some unmistakable witness intimidation and dangles a pardon (i.e., bribery).  So again I ask, why is he not disbarred?

Remember the old chestnut about how evil triumphs when good people do nothing?  I thank everyone who took the time to post on this thread, and I'm not casting aspersions on anyone.  But I have to say that reading the replies has been instructive in a way.  Almost all the replies amounted to things like "everybody does it" (aren't lawyers rightly supposed to be held to a higher standard?).  Or, "it's just a few rotten apples" (while that may be true, we are talking about the rotten apples at the very top of the profession, and shouldn't their conduct be exemplary?).  And while I admire the good and generous lawyers who rushed to the aid of immigrants at the border, I don't recall the mention of any of the WH lawyers being among them.  Oh wait, they couldn't help out with that b/c it would have been a conflict of interest in light of the fact that some of them were involved in formulating and defending the very policies that the good and generous lawyers were fighting.

I found it somewhat striking that the one poster who seemed to agree with the idea that these attys. should be disbarred appears to be a Canadian.  Have we really become so inured to corruption in this country?  I feel like a crazy person ranting about this, but is this really what we deserve?  I seem to remember the philosopher Hannah Arendt saying something about evil seeping in so slowly that we don't notice.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2019, 10:13:28 PM »
This is one of the things I was talking about.  A U.S. District Court judge ordered the release of the audio of a voicemail left by John Dowd, Trump's criminal atty.  (When I say criminal atty., it reminds me of what Jessie Pinkman told Walter White about Saul Goodman in "Breaking Bad".  "I don't mean you need a criminal atty that way.  I mean you need a CRIMINAL atty.).  At any rate, the audio is now widely available for all to listen to as of today, in all its shamelessness.

On the audio, Dowd ID's himself and in his own voice, calls Michael Flynn's atty. and engages in some unmistakable witness intimidation and dangles a pardon (i.e., bribery).  So again I ask, why is he not disbarred?

Remember the old chestnut about how evil triumphs when good people do nothing?  I thank everyone who took the time to post on this thread, and I'm not casting aspersions on anyone.  But I have to say that reading the replies has been instructive in a way.  Almost all the replies amounted to things like "everybody does it" (aren't lawyers rightly supposed to be held to a higher standard?).  Or, "it's just a few rotten apples" (while that may be true, we are talking about the rotten apples at the very top of the profession, and shouldn't their conduct be exemplary?).  And while I admire the good and generous lawyers who rushed to the aid of immigrants at the border, I don't recall the mention of any of the WH lawyers being among them.  Oh wait, they couldn't help out with that b/c it would have been a conflict of interest in light of the fact that some of them were involved in formulating and defending the very policies that the good and generous lawyers were fighting.

I found it somewhat striking that the one poster who seemed to agree with the idea that these attys. should be disbarred appears to be a Canadian.  Have we really become so inured to corruption in this country?  I feel like a crazy person ranting about this, but is this really what we deserve?  I seem to remember the philosopher Hannah Arendt saying something about evil seeping in so slowly that we don't notice.

I listened to the audio.  I think you have a grave misunderstanding of what it is like to be a lawyer.  You are ethically obligated to act in your client's best interests. But the hard part is that you are there to give advice, but the CLIENT makes the decisions. If you explain everything to the client and then he tells you, "I don't care, do [X Y Z] anyway," and if this is not expressly illegal or unethical or posing harm to someone else, then you are to carry out those orders. This puts you in a constant gray area where you are exercising your judgment, and it is this judgment that clients are paying you for.

Applied here, you may disagree with certain things, but there is very little case law on the limits of presidential pardon power.  The president can even arguably pardon himself, which is scary. The president is arguably also immune from prosecution, which is also scary. But Dowd is supported by case law, the constitution, DOJ policy, and is acting in the best interest and almost certainly on the instructions of his client. If he is reminding the other side, "Hey, you might get a pardon," that is certainly bad optics, but it is not unethical or illegal. Others may likely disagree, but that is kind of my point -- you are constantly in a gray area.

Being a lawyer is very, very difficult. Being Trump's lawyer is probably impossible. I would need $1,000,000 per month.

But generally, for the rest of us, you basically get paid to inherit other people's HUGE problems and make very difficult judgment calls over the course of several years of litigation (it's a HUGE problem if they are paying you $200/hour or more to take care of it). But balanced with that is the fact that the client ultimately makes the decisions. That ramps up the difficulty even more.

If you are really curious, I would honestly welcome you to come spend a couple days with me in my office.  I represent mostly civil clients but am on the public defender's list. You would probably lose your mind if you saw what happened in a prosecutor's office -- but that is what is supposed to happen.  The prosecutor having a swing, the defense having a swing.

It's an extremely difficult way to make a living for the 95% of lawyers that don't make bank.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 10:27:29 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

BicycleB

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2019, 05:34:44 PM »
...
On the audio, Dowd ID's himself and in his own voice, calls Michael Flynn's atty. and engages in some unmistakable witness intimidation and dangles a pardon (i.e., bribery).  So again I ask, why is he not disbarred?
...

...I think you have a grave misunderstanding of what it is like to be a lawyer. 
....

Didn't @cooking state he/she IS a lawyer?

...
 As a lawyer, I believe that all criminal defendants deserve a legal defense. 

PS. Posting in this thread is not intended to claim that I'm a lawyer.   :)
« Last Edit: June 07, 2019, 05:36:30 PM by BicycleB »

Fuzz

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2019, 10:30:07 AM »
It's an interesting question. I am not sure that shame is the right response. Shame tends to be paralyzing and inward looking. I think you're talking more about moral outrage, which is a good response. But after the lows of Trump's presidential campaign (the candidate inciting violence against reporters at rallies; insulting a Hispanic federal judge; the cover-up money, the gold star family, all of it)...It's hard to maintain the outrage at the appropriate pitch 2 years later.

I understand shame, but I don't if that's the best response to the political moment. I firmly believe we should live our lives and nurture our personal relationships. Prioritizing that can and should take some of the eye and energy off politics. Not saying that we shouldn't be outraged, but we still need to get through the day.

Two more thoughts and a big tangent. There is a great book called the Chickenshit Club. It's about DOJ's failure to do anything about white collar crime in recent years. They lost the gumption and some key cases.

Follow the electioning, my opinion of the Fortune 500 companies rose a bit. They seem to have better values and act more inclusively than the average (or really any) Republican Senator. Look at how companies like Delta have responded to some of the administration's policies vs McConnell. So I'd say that in general right now, the big corporate clients are looking better than their lawyers.

I disagree a bit with RSM on the voicemail. I think that could easily be charged as an improper inducement. I can think of an identical recent case in my jurisdiction. I am less impressed with the obstruction charge against Trump. One, Trump doesn't seem to have the capacity for long term planning. Two, obstruction is the go-to bullshit charge for prosecutors. Literally anything can be included in the idea of obstructing law enforcement (raise your voice, talk back, don't move quick enough, go limp, tell a white lie in a response to an intrusive question, whatever). It's a follow-on charge for a weak underlying charge. They can prove obstruction of an investigation, but not the underlying charge, so they're just doing it for leverage.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2019, 07:24:48 PM »
I am less impressed with the obstruction charge against Trump. One, Trump doesn't seem to have the capacity for long term planning. Two, obstruction is the go-to bullshit charge for prosecutors. Literally anything can be included in the idea of obstructing law enforcement (raise your voice, talk back, don't move quick enough, go limp, tell a white lie in a response to an intrusive question, whatever). It's a follow-on charge for a weak underlying charge. They can prove obstruction of an investigation, but not the underlying charge, so they're just doing it for leverage.


This was the basis of my reasoning. You are probably right on inducement.

But the obstruction statute is so incredibly broad as to almost be a nullity. I think you learn on the second or third day of law school that criminal statues must be specific. The obstruction statute laughably fails that basic test.

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2019, 11:38:31 PM »
Every day it seems we're hearing of the blatantly criminal acts committed by attorneys at the pinnacle of their professions and of the government.  Sometimes evidenced by tape recordings of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.  If you or I dreamed of acting this way in our practice, we would surely be disbarred.  So I keep wondering, why are the state bars to which these attorneys are admitted not acting to disbar them?

Does anyone else not find this conduct shockingly bad and a disgrace to the profession?  We all know who I'm talking about here, rhymes with John Dowd and Abbe Lowell.

I don't pay that much attention to politics so I don't know who or what you are talking about.

With that caveat out of the way, I think our profession is like any other -- 98% of people are good actors, but it's the 2% who make the headlines for their corruption.

Yah, pretty much this. I read the other day about a doctor who was anaesthetising female patients and sexually assaulting them! Obviously a grave sin, but hardly something that reflects on the rest of the profession.

I've never had any moral issues with the profession. I play to win but I only ever play by the rules, and I try to be courteous to fellow practitioners because it engenders a positive workplace. That is enough to make my conscience squeaky clean.


aetheldrea

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Re: Fellow attorneys: Do you feel shame for the profession?
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2019, 09:19:59 AM »
Everybody hates lawyers.  Until they need one...
... then they absolutely despise them :-)