Oregon State Bar Bulletin FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Good Bye, U.S. Bank
After 40 years of banking with U.S. Bank, I’m calling it quits. Until now, the bank has always been good about its interest paid on lawyers trust accounts. But it has recently adopted a nationwide policy of paying almost nothing. Its change will cost the Oregon Law Foundation and the legal services programs and other grantees of the foundation about $160,000 annually. That is almost 20 percent of the grants the OLF has been able to make in the last few years with interest rates scraping bottom.
But, some banks are civic minded and are paying 1 percent or close to it, a decent rate in these times. The OLF used to be able to raise over $3.5 million annually when interest rates were about 5 percent. Now it can’t even raise $1 million.
I am moving to Key Bank, but there are also 18 other excellent banks, large and small, that are Visionary and Advocacy Banks for IOLTA funds. I urge all members to check the OLF website at www.oregonlawfoundation.org and consider changing your bank to one of the good ones if you are not with one already.
Banking at a socially responsible bank with good IOLTA rates is a way lawyers can help the legal needs of the poor without it costing us anything. It matters where you bank. Changing is not fun, but it’s worth it. And you can open more than one trust account, so there is no reason not to keep your clients’ money where it will do some good for society and not just the bank.
Charles R. Williamson, Portland
I have read the letter by Thomas Balmer, chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, addressed to all Oregon Lawyers (January 2014), and I hereby respond.
Chief Justice Balmer wrote, in part, “It seemed particularly relevant in an economic climate that saw so many new lawyers starting their own practices without the support systems that many of us enjoyed early in our careers.” Amen.
I doubt that law school adequately teaches one how to practice law. It certainly didn’t teach me. I learned to practice law as part of a support system. I doubt that many new lawyers who open their own offices without having been part of a support system know what they are doing. I do not suppose that is good for the new lawyer. It certainly isn’t good for the members of the public who use (and pay for) the lawyer’s service.
Why not mandate an apprenticeship program for lawyers similar to those in place for other professionals, such as accountants, architects and doctors? The argument that such programs constitute involuntary servitude that could be abused by existing lawyers could be countered by a rule that apprentices must be paid a fair market wage.
Peter Appleton, Salem
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