Oregon State Bar Bulletin AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013
On Leaving a Law Firm
Law firms should be permitted to require adequate notice when a partner leaves a law firm or face a reduction in their buy-out. Today’s law firms are capital intensive, requiring heavy investments in technology, office space and equipment. When a partner leaves a law firm, the remaining partners bear the burden of the overhead until that partner can be replaced. If a partner fails to give notice under the partnership agreement why shouldn’t the departing law partner bear a portion of that burden?
The requirement of adequate notice or reduction in the buy-out to take into account the overhead share of the partner for a period of time does not prevent the partner from practicing law or the client choosing whether to stay with the firm or go with the partner. It’s really about the economic relations between the partners of the firm.
The bar’s ethics rule RPC 5.6(a) on “restraining the right of a lawyer to practice after termination of the relationship” should not be interpreted to prohibit either adequate notice to the firm or a reduction in the buy-out to the departing partner, as long as the assessment is reasonably related to the loss to the firm. It’s time to relook at this issue in light of the economics of modern-day law firms.
Robert LeChevallier, Lake Oswego
An Excellent Example
The comprehensive article about the Oregon and California forest lands (“Fighting Clear Cuts,” July 2013) provides an excellent example of some of the perils of using public resources to fund private enterprise.
Robert Weiss, Portland
Regarding ‘The Changing Face of Homelessness’
I have read “The Changing Face of Homelessness” article by Melody Finnemore in the June 2013 issue of the Bulletin.
Actually, I am not the best person to write about the homeless given that I once responded to a question of where all the homeless had come from with “they used to be bums.” I (like most people) have sympathy for people who have become homeless because of economic issues and who are trying to get back on their feet, and that is 99 percent of what Ms. Finnemore wrote about.
Ms. Finnemore wrote as if the cause of most homelessness was economic. I do not believe that. I believe that much homelessness is the result of choice. I have no sympathy for the chronically homeless; I think that most chronically homes people choose to live that way. I do not accept the “mental illness” excuse. If people are mentally ill they should be hospitalized. I also have no sympathy for people who act like they are owed something by society, they do not seek to get into shelters or improve themselves, instead they choose to live on the streets and in parks, panhandling for money and food as if that is their right.
I don’t think that anyone has the right to impose him/herself on a community and expect to be treated well by others; people who choose to live in the woods should be permitted to do so but as far from others as possible and they should not be permitted to panhandle. Such people are “bums” and they should be treated as such. People should not give them money or food.
Peter M. Appleton, Salem
Timber Counties Bear Some Responsibility
In the article “Fighting Clear Cuts” (July 2013), Lane County counsel Stephen Dingle asserts that the real solution to timber counties’ financial problems lies in Washington, D.C.
Recent census data show that the median annual household income in Curry and Josephine Counties is about $38,000-$40,000. In Oregon as a whole, it’s about $50,000. This shows more unwillingness than inability to pay for public services.
With all due respect, a lot of the solution lies in the timber counties themselves.
Charles D. Bates, Portland
On Moral Dissonance
Donald R. Lundberg (“The Authentic Self,” July 2013) discusses the “moral dissonance” that arises when a lawyer disagrees with a client about a course of action. He quotes Lord Brougham, who said that a lawyer has a duty of undivided loyalty to the client. As an example, Lundberg discusses what the lawyer is supposed to do when receiving an accidentally disclosed privileged document. He says that the lawyer must consult with the client and, if the lawyer and client disagree about what is to be done, they lawyer must go through the messy business of filing a motion to withdraw from the representation.
Lord Brougham, who defended Queen Caroline from charges of adultery brought against her by the king, surely did not have this in mind. Just because I owe a duty of loyalty to my client does not mean that I must do anything he tells me to do. If, on the way to court, my client says, “Here’s a two-by-four. Keep it under the counsel table and, the next time the opposing attorney make one of his silly objections, conk him with it,” I do not imagine that I am required to do as my client asks.
Certainly in some matters, such as agreeing to settlement, the client’s wishes much be respected. But for everything else, I am an independent professional and shall do what I think is best. If the client does not care for the way I am handling the matter, he can fire me.
Michael Mahoney, San Francisco
We Love Letters
The Bulletin welcomes letters. In general, letters should pertain to recent articles, columns or other letters and should be limited to 250 words.
Letters must be original and addressed to the Bulletin editor.
Letters must be signed. Unsigned or anonymous letters will not be published. Letters may not promote individual products, services or political candidates. All letters must comply with the guidelines of Keller v. State Bar of California (germane to the purpose of regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of the legal services).
Send letters to: Editor, OSB Bulletin, P.O. Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281.