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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

December 12, 2005

the appearance of incompetence

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:38 am

Yesterday evening, I filled out my biennial New York State Attorney

Registration form.  The main purpose of the Registration appears to

be the collection of a $350 fee, which can be avoided by declaring

one’s self to be retired from the practice of law (as I have done for

the past few two-year cycles).  The form is also used to obtain verifi-

cation that the attorney has completed Continuing Legal Education

requirements (just a signature, no list of actual courses taken), and

is in compliance with certain rules relating to client funds entrusted to

the lawyer (again, just a signature affirming compliance). 


Clearly, one never had to be a rocket scientist to fill out the old Attorney

Registration form.  In fact, even though some lawyers can be less than  

fully competent and — more often — less than fully diligent, we would have

thought that being a member of the NYS bar might have been sufficient 

preparation to fill out the Form.




It was quite surprising, therefore, to find the following greeting from the NYS

OCA Attorney Registration Unit accompanying the Form:

Dear New York State Attorney,


      We are pleased to provide you with this redesigned Attorney

Registration form, which includes, for the first time, graphically-

enhanced, step-by-step instructions on how to complete the

form . . . . 



That’s right: “graphically-enhanced, step-by-step instructions”!  To be more

precise: in the lefthand margin of the Instruction Page, you will find tiny re-

productions of the two-page Registration Form, with — hold on! — arrows

pointing from each Section (you know, A, B, C, D) of the Form to the

related Instructions (again, A, B, C, D).


Am I being too negative?  Well, go here to see just how helpful this graphic

enhancement can be for the poor lawyer facing the task of filling out his or

her Registration Form.  Remember, the attorney gets only two months to

perform this task.


arrow circle


We have at times accused bar regulators of treating both clients and lawyers

as if they are simpleminded  This little graphic instruction boost seems to suggest

a new level of disdain for lawyer intelligence and attention to detail.  Just who needs

these arrows?   What kind of mistakes were being made on prior forms?  And, how

much did OCA pay for the assistance of form-filling and graphic design experts? 


Maybe we should show these Registration forms to pro se litigants, as they struggle

to fill out court filings and pleadings.  It might make not having a lawyer seem a lot

less worrisome.  In fact, each pro se party might start hoping the opposing side hires

one of them lawyers who needs them there arrows.





“easy to assemble
I put it back and
grab a teddybear




setting up the creche —

the Baby’s name

whispered over and over




                        [eros & arrows:]

                       anniversary day

                             my wife & i

                         assemble a treadmill


                               ed markowski   bear creek haiku (Spring 2002)



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