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

May 14, 2007

better to be mistaken for a knave than a fool

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 3:50 pm

spotlightS    In a posting last week at LegalBlogWatch (Road to Riches? Rate Lawyers), Robert Ambrogi told us about the recent Houston Chronicle article “Publications Cash in on Lawyers’ Egos,” by Mary Flood (May 6. 2006).   With names such as Super Lawyers, Top Lawyers, Lawdragon 500 and Best Lawyers in America, publications take advantage of the vanity of lawyers by giving them a chance to purchase ads alongside lists and commentary that tout a firm or lawyer as being especially successful or talented.  Ambrogi notes that some observers and lawyers believe buying the ads helps secure a top rating.  Bob also points to an important additional issue raised by Flood in a follow-up weblog posting at the Chronicle (“Lawyer lauding and reader confusion“): 

“[Flood suggests that] lawyers are contributing to consumer confusion by blurring the line between advertising and editorial. Flood cites her state of Texas, where Super Lawyers runs each year as an advertising supplement in Texas Monthly magazine. Texas Monthly has no say in the ratings of any kind, Flood points out, yet “many local lawyer bios brag incorrectly that they are rated as Super Lawyers by Texas Monthly.”

At LawBeat, Mark Obbie says this practice makes him cringe. “It’s designed to confuse ordinary readers about who’s honoring the lawyers, despite the agate-type disclaimers.”  Prof. Obbie also explains, “Mary Flood casts some light on the silly business of shaking lawyers down for advertising while lauding them in meaningless rankings. ”

To those who might blame the lawyers, Bob Ambrogi says:  questionDudeT 

My sense is that many of the lawyers who wrongly claim they were rated by, say, Texas Monthly, are not being disingenuous. Rather, like many readers, they fail to perceive the lines between church and state in a news magazine. If it quacks like editorial content, it must be editorial content. If consumers are not to be misled, magazines need to follow strict guidelines for clearly distinguishing “advertorial” content produced by sales people from editorial content produced by editors and reporters. And whoever is selling these ads, whether it is the magazine or the directory, needs to make sure the lawyers who buy them understand what they are getting.  

This is another instance where I sincerely envy Bob Ambrogi’s experience within the legal profession — during an extensive career, he has clearly been exposed to a consistently more benign segment of the bar than I.  He is also far more trusting of other humans.  To my skeptical mind, it is almost insulting to lawyers who are deemed “super” and “best” (even if only by ad-peddling bunco-artists, or in their own minds) to suggest they are: a) so naive, b) so lacking in curiosity, c) so bad at issue-spotting, and/or d) so dimwitted, that they fail to understand exactly who is doing the rating and just how misleading the context can be for the consuming public.   At best, the lawyer or firm simply doesn’t want to look too closely.

dunceCap In our adversarial system, lawyers are constantly called upon — within the bounds of certain ethical and professional limits — to spin, cover-up or obscure facts, and to mislead the public, opposing counsel, juries and others.  In that context. I bet most lawyers would much rather be thought of as knaves than as fools — especially, by those who are in no position to know their state of mind and may very well be mistaken.  Knaves can serve their client’s interests very well in a large proportion of matters, and are often sought out.  Fools, on the other hand, are rarely an advantage and never desirable advocates or counsellors.  So, if only out of an abundance of kindness, I’m going to lean toward the knave explanation when it comes to misleading preening and vanity advertising by lawyers.   

BigSkyRMA2006  SuperHaijin:  There’s no hype around here when we say f/k/a features poetry by some of the very haiku poets in the English language (plus, thanks to who is knows, the slacker dagosan).  As we mentioned two days ago, a remarkable number of our Honored Guest poets achieved the Haiku Hat Trick this year: having three of their poems selected for the prestigious annual Red Moon Anthology.  Here are the poems from Carolyn Hall, Billie Wilson and Jim Kacian that can be found in the new volume big sky: The Red Moon Anthology 2006 (Jim Kacian, Editor in Chief, Red Moon Press, 2007).



circle of pines
God absent
from the wedding vows


so suddenly winter
baby teeth at the bottom
of the button jar


plum blossoms    
I make plans
for my ashes

…… by Carolyn Hall from  big sky: rma 2006 spotlightS  

“plum blossoms” – Spiess 2006 Constest
“circle of pines” – Frogpond XXIX: 1
“so suddenly winter” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:1


Valentine’s Day–
he tells me I’m number one
on his speed dial



letter from the war zone —
leaves shift
against the brick wall


late night rain–
he reads to me from the book
I read to him


……………. by Billie Wilson from big sky: rma 2006
“Valentine’s Day” – Frogpond XXIX:1
“letter from the war zone” – Hermitage 1 & 2
“late night rain” –  “Mayfly #40


I read her poem


spotlightS   camping alone one star then many


pleasantly drunk . . .
fireflies come out
of the moon

………………… by jim kacian from big sky: rma 2006  
“dusklight” – Spiess 2006 Contest
“pleasantly drunk” – Kaiji Aso Contest 2006
“camping alone” – Frogpond XXIX:2


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