All Are Responsible
I write in response to suggestions in recent issues that lawyers provide pro bono or reduced fee legal services to low income clients.
I agree that legal services should be provided to those low income persons who need them. I do not agree that the provision of such services should be the sole responsibility of lawyers.
The responsibility to provide legal services to those who need but cannot afford them should be no different than the responsibility to provide medical or other professional services to such people.
That responsibility should be of society in general, not just the legal profession. If a low income person who visits an emergency room is unable to pay for medical services rendered to him or her, the responsibility for that obligation is not imposed on the emergency room doctor. He or she is still paid for his or her work. That should be the same rule for legal or other professional services. Such services should be provided by a publicly funded entity. To ask lawyers to provide legal services for free or at reduced rates only encourages the government to abdicate its responsibility.
Peter M. Appleton
Jury Selection Simplified
The article on juror attitudes in the December Bulletin ('Us and Them') reminded me of a speech on the subject given more than 50 years ago by Craig Spangenberg, a respected trial lawyer:
'Ignore all the books on selecting jurors based on race, creed, gender, occupation, etc.' he said.
'If you’re representing a plaintiff in a personal injury case or a defendant in a criminal case, look carefully at the mouths of prospective jurors. If their lips are pressed together — in a way that reminds you of the anus of a chicken — kick ‘em off. They won’t have any sympathy for your client.'
I can’t back his theory with data, but 54 years of looking at jurors and my mediation clients convinces me that this trait reflects an attitude consistent with his concerns.
Paying for CLE
I have read Mr. Cogan’s letter (December 2003) and it assumes that bar dues are subsidizing CLE. This is not true. The bar policy regarding CLE is that the CLE shall be self supporting, i.e., break even, without support from dues. This is the long standing policy. Dues only support CLE when this standard is not met.
The CLE staff and committee are committed to providing quality materials and seminars under the break even policy. With the generous assistance from members this keeps the price low compared to other vendors while quality remains high.
The premise is that members do not want their dues supporting CLE. This may be changing. Casemaker is now offered to members for a modest increase in their dues. It has been suggested that CLE publications be on Casemaker. It would require an increase in dues to cover the costs of production. This increase may not be so modest even though the cost structure of production would change. Members could benefit as it may decease their other costs while their dues increase.
Occasionally, the CLE program receives requests that seminars be free to all or new members. This is usually from a judge concerned about the quality of new attorneys in his courtroom. If this service is provided, either on the internet or elsewhere, the cost of production would still need to be covered. This could be met by an increase in dues.
The issue is whether members want to change the policy and commit bar dues to pay for CLE.
Margaret E. Dailey
Chair, 2003 OSB CLE Committee