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

April 26, 2007

turn-offs and turn-ons

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 11:36 pm

      My biggest turn-off by far this week comes from the self-serving California lawyers who are opposing a proposal that would merely require lawyers to tell clients whether or not they have malpractice insurance. [It’s estimated that a third of all lawyers carry no malpractice insurance.].  As you know, I have to hold my nose whenever I smell groups of lawyers acting like guilds — protecting their own financial interests rather than putting their clients’ interests first — so, I’m forced to type this posting with just one hand.  The State Bar of California‘s Task Force studying the issue supported mandatory disclosure last year.  Despite receiving mostly negative responses from the profession, it is expected to release a final proposal for comment tomorrow (Friday, April 27, 2007) again recommending mandatory malpractice insurance disclosure. (See Calif. Bar Still Wants Insurance Disclosure Rule, The Recorder/, April 23, 2007)  See our prior post supporting mandatory disclosure, which discusses a very good piece in GPSolo magazine (April/May 2003) presenting a debate on the pros and cons. 

PhantomMask James Towery, who chairs the CalBar Task Force, supports the disclosure and wrote in the GPSolo article that the issue is: “When a client hires a lawyer, is the lawyer’s lack of insurance a material fact that the client is entitled to know?”  Virtually all clients simply assume every lawyer carries malpractice insurance — and would very much want to know otherwise.  Towery correctly states: “It is difficult to fashion a persuasive argument that clients are not entitled to that information.” 

Given their position as fiduciaries and their constant assertions of putting clients first, you’d think lawyers — or at least their leaders — would agree with Towery and the Task Force (even if reluctantly).  Nonetheless, many bar groups in California have fought hard for years to remove a prior disclosure requirement and to block it from being reinstated.  Leading the charge against the disclosure rules are several “voluntary” bar associations, including: a) the former state Trial Lawyers Association, which now has the nerve to call itself Consumer Attorneys of California (and soon perhaps the California Justice League); b) the Los Angeles County Bar Association, whose ethics committee chairman weighed in against the proposal; and the umbrella-group Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, which once had a website accessible to the public, but now apparently only wants members to know what they’re up to.   Why the fight against the State Bar?

  1.    CalBar is a “unified” or “mandatory” bar organization: It is a “statuatory public corporation in the judicial branch of state government.  As a unified State Bar, it “unifies” both the regulatory licensing activities applicable to the practice of law as well as the association activities of a professional association. In a unified bar, “membership” is mandatory for all attorneys who must pay “membership” or licensing fees to maintain their license to practice law.” (from profile) Of course, unified bars take anti-client positions at times but, with the right leadership, they can often stand up against the worst mob-psychology of organized groups of fearful lawyers.
  2.    About two-thirds of all state bar associations are “unified.”  Most state bar associations in the northeast and midwest are “voluntary” organizations (see ABA map), as are all county, city and national bar associations. (The pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory state bars are discussed in this Wisconsin Bar Journal article)  Because no lawyer is required to join a voluntary bar association, and thus be required to pay their dues and subscribe to their rules of conduct, voluntary bar association must “earn their keep” by providing services and results that their members like.  Despite doing many good deeds (especially for the poor and various “victim” groups), far too many voluntary bars attract and keep members by fighting to enhance lawyer income, stifling competition and innovation, and concocting horror stories and fairy tales to justify opposing rules and laws that protect their clients.  It’s not surprising, then, that the voluntary bars of Arkansas (see this post) and Massachusetts (discussed here) have voted down proposals to require malpractice insurance disclosure.

WolfDudeN It will be interesting to see whether (as suggested by, the CalBar task force has watered down their proposal to appease all the angry attorneys, who don’t want the pressure to purchase malpractice insurance or the embarrassment of telling clients they don’t have it.  In our prior post, you can see some of the specious, scary and unprofessional arguments made by the opponents of disclosure.  Another posting, tells of the status of disclosure rules across the country.  The legal reform group HALT supports mandatory insurance disclosure , but would prefer mandatory malpractice insurance coverage for all lawyers.

hidden in shadows 
a laughing mouse…
New Year’s inventory

midday’s mosquitoes
hidden behind
the Buddha of stone

……….. by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue 

fortune-telling machine
I re-pocket
my quarter


…………. by Carolyn Hall – Acorn #18 (2007)


 WolfDudeN……..  You can always get the straight scoop from lawyer-haijin Roberta Beary, like in this domestic haibun, from Hermitage 2006:

blue room

it is 6:30 a.m.  my boy has overslept for school again  i am his alarm
clock  for a few more months at least… by this time next year  he
will be gone  please god  not in that faraway war but under a blanket
of textbooks and rock music in the snowy heart of his homeland

empty house
pencil lines streak
a blue wall



         TVTurnOffLogo  To my surprise, I’m turned on by TV-Turnoff Week, which is April 23 to 29, 2007.  Frankly, I’ve often been annoyed by the “won’t-have-a tv-in-my-home” crowd, who seem just a wee bit too self-congratulatory in their presumed cultural and intellectual superiority, and rather ignorant of the good programming to be found on occasion on the tube.  Nevertheless, my reaction is quite positive to the TV-Turnoff project, which is organized by the Center for Screen-Time Awareness.  (That may be because of my own creeping addiction again to sitting at my computer engaged in weblog punditry.) The Center’s approach seems intelligently moderate: they stress all the good things that can be done with our non-screen time; advocate that we (especially our kids) greatly reduce screen time; and hope that a week [or, if you’re starting late, a few days] without tv and similar devices will help us realize just how addicted we are to television.   There are a few enjoyable quotations on their quotes page (along with some ponderously preachy ones):

  1. “The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely.” -T.S. Eliot
  2. “I really didn’t like TV-Turnoff Week except I did notice that my grades went up and I was in a good mood all week.” -Drew Henderson, 2nd grader, Donora, Pennsylvania
  3. “The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.” -David Brinkley
  4. “I  find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” -Groucho Marx
  5. “Television is a chewing gum for the eyes.” says Frank Lloyd Wright.

Speaking of Frank Lloyd Wright, and not watching tv, click here to see a haiga based on one of his creations, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City:

HaigaLightShowS  orig. haiga at Magnapoets (April 25, 2007) 

light show
behind eyelids —
free admission



 TVTurnOffLogo  Any haijin can tell you, there’s a world of things to do communing with nature, detached from television, computers and Blackberrys.


vastness of the stars
my gum


a deep breath
of mountain air
shooting stars


soft earth  seesaw 
I might risk
a cartwheel


………… by John Stevenson 
“vastness of the stars” – Hermitage, Vol. 2, 2005
“a deep breath” – Geppo, Jul/Aug, 2005
“soft earth” – Acorn, No. 14 (2005)


 dwindling heat
a butterfly lengthens
the rosevine


park bench    sunglassesG    
an old man slips deeper
into his dream


unveiling i listen hard  for spring rain


…………………………………… by Roberta Beary – Hermitage 2006 


the boy casts   HaigaLightShowSN 
farther than his father–
fine spring rain

………………….. by Carolyn Hall – Acorn #18 (2007)


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