Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JULY 2014


Verbs to Remember

I recently read the articles regarding good writing and rules of grammar (The Legal Writer) by Megan McAlpin and Suzanne E. Rowe. As a paralegal/legal assistant for many years, I proofread many documents. It is difficult for me to even read casually without my brain looking for grammar mistakes and awkward sentences. I am recently looking at the many ways the word “get/got” is used in all different media. Both of the authors above did use a few varying forms of the word in their articles.

While I do not profess to have the extensive learning of either author, I wonder if the usage of such a word is so common now that actual verbs are forgotten. I am now conscientiously stopping each time I speak and think of a verb to use in place of the “get/got” in a sentence, and it sounds more learned.

I realize there are instances where that word is meaningful, but so many sentences are better with a verb instead of the “get/got.” Of note, the people I informed of this now have difficulty when they want to use that word and they have to stop and think.

Thank you for the wonderful articles. I always enjoy reading about good English usage. I am sure the authors could find my mistakes in this letter.

Anne Ingalls, Wilderville


Not Time for Congratulations Yet

Reading “Adapting for a New Era In Legal Education: Oregon’s Law Schools Respond to the Demands of the New Economy” (June 2014), particularly coupled with a recent Board of Governor Update discussing the same subject, we all might congratulate ourselves that the recession is over or soon will be for law school graduates. Mission accomplished? I don’t think so.

Law schools certainly should reconsider how they educate lawyers, prepare those lawyers for practice and charge for that legal education, but those efforts do nothing to help many lawyers who graduated between 2009 and 2012 who are either still unemployed or woefully underemployed and usually burdened with significant educational debt. These lawyers are still laboring under the “old” era and the “old” economy.

I looked through the Positions Available in the same issue of the Bulletin. On the positive side, there were advertisements for 19 jobs. However, of those jobs, only two were arguably (neither expressly) interested in applications from beginning lawyers. Fifteen asked for between one and 12 years of legal experience. Two were seeking lateral transfers with a book of business. None referenced accepting experience in law school clinics in lieu of legal practice. Furthermore, if law schools believe that clinical or similar experience should have been prioritized for law school students before now, those schools should be encouraged to offer such experiences to unemployed graduates at little or no cost.

There must be options to help these young lawyers. I am a lawyer much closer to retiring than to establishing a practice. Fortunately, I am not facing these challenges. I don’t pretend to have the solutions. I do have a few suggestions. The bar might offer incentives for law firms to hire beginning lawyers. The bar could reduce the cost of bar membership and insurance coverage for lawyers who are unemployed or underemployed. The bar might open up the mentor program to people who are beyond their first year of practice. Any beginning lawyer who thinks he or she needs a mentor should be able to find someone to help.

If we can find good ideas for people who are potential lawyers, we should be able to find some ideas to help people who had the intellect and drive to become actual lawyers. In any event, the bar and perhaps the law schools should involve some of the lawyers who are in this predicament in proposing options.

We can’t just forget these young lawyers and refocus on a hopefully sunny future for those now beginning their legal education. We are in real danger of losing a whole cohort of excellent lawyers who want no more than to work hard and earn a decent living. In any event, it’s not time to start congratulating ourselves yet.

Mary Ellen Page Farr, Portland


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