Posts Tagged ‘lawyers’

George Eliot on clients’ demand for lawyers’ ethics

From Scenes of Clerical Life (1857), “Janet’s Repentance,” chapter 2 (paragraph breaks added):

Old lawyer Pittman had once been a very important person indeed, having in his earlier days managed the affairs of several gentlemen in those parts, who had subsequently been obliged to sell everything and leave the country, in which crisis Mr. Pittman accommodatingly stepped in as a purchaser of their estates, taking on himself the risk and trouble of a more leisurely sale; which, however, happened to turn out very much to his advantage. Such opportunities occur quite unexpectedly in the way of business. But I think Mr. Pittman must have been unlucky in his later speculations, for now, in his old age, he had not the reputation of being very rich; and though he rode slowly to his office in Milby every morning on an old white hackney, he had to resign the chief profits, as well as the active business of the firm, to his younger partner, Dempster. No one in Milby considered old Pittman a virtuous man, and the elder townspeople were not at all backward in narrating the least advantageous portions of his biography in a very round unvarnished manner.

Yet I could never observe that they trusted him any the less, or liked him any the worse. Indeed, Pittman and Dempster were the popular lawyers of Milby and its neighborhood, and Mr. Benjamin Landor, whom no one had anything particular to say against, had a very meager business in comparison. Hardly a landholder, hardly a farmer, hardly a parish within ten miles of Milby, whose affairs were not under the legal guardianship of Pittman and Dempster; and I think the clients were proud of their lawyers’ unscrupulousness, as the patrons of the fancy’s are proud of their champion’s ‘condition’.

It was not, to be sure, the thing for ordinary life, but it was the thing to be bet on in a lawyer. Dempster’s talent in ‘bringing through’ a client was a very common topic of conversation with the farmers, over an incidental glass of grog at the Red Lion. ‘He’s a long-headed feller, Dempster; why, it shows yer what a headpiece Dempster has, as he can drink a bottle o’ brandy at a sittin’, an’ yit see further through a stone wall when he’s done, than other folks ‘ll see through a glass winder.’ Even Mr. Jerome, chief member of the congregation at Salem Chapel, an elderly man of very strict life, was one of Dempster’s clients, and had quite an exceptional indulgence for his attorney’s foibles, perhaps attributing them to the inevitable incompatibility of law and gospel.

The standard of morality at Milby, you perceive, was not inconveniently high in those good old times, and an ingenuous vice or two was what every man expected of his neighbor.

September 20 roundup

  • Oregon: “Union-Backed Ballot Initiative Would Limit Grocery Stores to 2 Self-Checkout Machines” [Christian Britschgi, Reason]
  • Not unexpectedly, given its own precedent, Ninth Circuit rules Idaho inmate entitled to sex reassignment surgery [Amanda Peacher and James Dawson, NPR; pre-ruling (July) KRCC/NPR podcast and interview with Peacher, I’m quoted as in earlier coverage; earlier]
  • I wrote a personal recollection at Cato of philanthropist David Koch;
  • “Flight attendants and airport staff now get trained to intervene in what federal officials (falsely) portray as an epidemic of airline-based sex trafficking which can be spotted by good Samaritans who know the ‘signs.'” And mistakes will happen [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason]
  • Population growth has caused the Ninth Circuit to bulge at the seams. Left-right political advantage isn’t a good reason to break it up, but there are plenty of nonpolitical reasons that are good [Ilya Shapiro and Nathan Harvey, George Mason Law Review]
  • “The legal profession was regarded by both the authors of The Federalist and Alexis de Tocqueville as the anchor of the republic —- a barrier to destabilizing innovation and a constraint on excessive democratic passions.” What happened? [John McGinnis]

June 19 roundup

  • Gorsuch: “A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result.” And yet he and Ginsburg were the only dissenters from the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision Monday in Gamble v. U.S. to allow consecutive state and federal prosecutions over the same conduct, the so-called dual sovereignty exception to double jeopardy protection [Reuters, Ilya Shapiro, Cato brief (with ACLU and Constitutional Accountability Center) that had urged an end to the exception; and a conspiracy theory about Kavanaugh that wound up having absolutely no predictive value]
  • “When Should Plaintiffs Be Able to Sue Anonymously?” [Eugene Volokh]
  • 77-year-old antitrust consent decrees were designed for a music business that long since faded into history, DOJ’s decision to reconsider is welcome [Federalist Society podcast with Kristen Osenga and Mark Schultz, Osenga blog post]
  • Clarence Darrow once boasted a cult following among American lawyers. His manipulative speech in the Leopold/Loeb case leaves you to wonder whether much will outlive the hype [Bryan Caplan]
  • Federal aid-to-state programs have exploded in recent years, a good way to redistribute money and power into the hands of political elites with little taxpayer or voter accountability [Chris Edwards, Cato, new study and blog post]
  • Dear Caterpillar: do you think there is much likelihood of consumer confusion about whether this coffee shop t-shirt is promoting earth-moving machinery? [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

March 20 roundup

  • Sports betting: best to ignore the leagues’ special pleadings and let federalism work [Patrick Moran, Cato, related podcast]
  • Everything you thought you knew about corporate personhood in the law is wrong [David Bernstein reviews Adam Winkler’s We the Corporations]
  • Federal judge John Kane, on lawyer’s filings: “I have described them as prolix, meandering, full of unfounded supposition and speculation, repetitive and convoluted almost to the point of being maddening.” And he’s just getting started [Scott Greenfield]
  • “Florida Voters Join Chevron Revolt And Strike A Blow Against Judicial Bias” [Mark Chenoweth, Federalist Society Blog] Plus video panel on “The States and Administrative Law” with Nestor Davidson, Chris Green, Miriam Seifter, Hon. Jeffrey Sutton, and Hon. Michael Scudder;
  • Argument that Congressionally extended extension of copyright on (among other works) Atlas Shrugged violates Ayn Rand’s own ethical code [Edward Sisson]
  • “More Legislation, More Violence? The Impact of Dodd-Frank in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” [Nik Stroop and Peter van der Windt, Cato; our longstanding coverage of the conflicts mineral fiasco]

January 16 roundup

  • The two new heads of the judiciary committees in the Pennsylvania legislature are nonlawyers, and the legal community appears to be fine with that [Max Mitchell, Legal Intelligencer]
  • Long after his downfall in one of the worst U.S. legal scandals in years, Stan Chesley was still listed as holding an honored position at a major charity until a reporter started calling [Josh Nathan-Kazis, Forward, I’m quoted; update (Chesley’s name removed)]
  • National security restrictions form an important part of regulatory practice these days for international business, discussed at a Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention panel with William J. Haynes II, Timothy Keeler, Randal Milch, Donald Rosenberg, and moderator Eric J. Kadel, Jr.;
  • How seeking government intervention backfired on Silicon Valley [Drew Clark, Cato Policy Report]
  • Are Baltimore schools underfunded? tales of the gun buyback, local adoption of Daubert, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes; plus redistricting updates]
  • “Despite Losing Its Copyright Case, The State Of Georgia Still Trying To Stop Carl Malamud From Posting Its Laws” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt, earlier]

“New App Lets You ‘Sue Anyone By Pressing a Button'”

The developer of Do Not Pay, a free app for fighting parking tickets, has now turned his attention to small claims court [Caroline Haskins, Motherboard]:

The app works by having a bot ask the user a few basic questions about their legal issue. The bot then uses the answers to classify the case into one of 15 different legal areas, such as breach of contract or negligence. After that, Do Not Pay draws up documents specific to that legal area, and fills in the specific details. Just print it out, mail it to the courthouse, and voilá — you’re a plaintiff. And if you have to show up to court in person, Do Not Pay even creates a script for the plaintiff to read out loud in court.

“Law’s Picture Books”

vintage illustration of steamroller run by lawyersWe’ve linked an item from this series previously, but it deserves a post in itself: “Law’s Picture Books,” an exhibition at NYC’s Grolier Club, displayed more than 140 items from the Yale Law Library’s collection of images and writings on legal themes. In a series of ten posts at Concurring Opinions (link is to the series tag), Mark S. Weiner explores many of the highlights. They include images of courtrooms and of lawyers at work; books using mathematical and quantitative methods to address legal issues arising from water and land; images used in law teaching; tree-and-branch and other diagrams; and a 1554 treatise on criminal law whose breakthrough innovation was its inclusion of 60 woodcuts depicting specific crimes.

More in videos at Weiner’s Worlds of Law and in pictures at Mike Widener’s Flickr account. More on the steamroller cartoon in the series entry “Laughing at the Law.”