The regulation of the practice of law lies in the hands of lawyers. But not just any lawyers. Typically, members of grievance committees walk the halls of white-shoe firms, specializing in representation of the well-heeled and the privileged. From time to time, these firms will do pro bono work, typically on cases flattering to the image the firm wishes to portray.
Being released from the ordinary pressure of representing little people in big trouble for a living, these regulators of our ethics have a cheery perception of the profession. Is it a mistake to let them enforce the standards for the practice of law? Or is it a sub rosa form of tort reform? Make the profession conform to the standards of those with money and only money will talk.
Would the lawyer cops be so quick to counsel client communication at the drop of a hat if the meter were not running, or their clients' oars weren't sure to hit the water at each stroke? All small-firm lawyers know from bitter experience the obsessed client whose hang-nail is worth millions.
I say we trench-bound lawyers living from fee to fee ought to help to educate the regulators. We can do that by sharing our client-base. My office has begun a practice of trying to refer at least a couple of potential clients a week to members of the various grievance committees in Connecticut. We are fortunate to have the ability to do so.
I am encouraging others to do the same.
Next week some evening when you return from court bleary-eyed to face the challenge of the evening's calls, select a potential client to refer to a member of your local grievance committee. Oh, I suspect the client may not be among the most promising. It may be someone whose issues are apparent even on a brief message pad. But help educate the regulators. Given them a taste of something other than a Fortune 500 phone call.
Start at the top, I say. Here's a link listing the members of the federal Grievance Committee in Connecticut as posted on the federal court web page. Refer A Case Or Two To The Needy Odd how no phone numbers were included. I wonder whether there is a reason for that?
We'll be waiving referral fees in the these cases for reasons that will be obvious to anyone feeling a similar spirit of generosity. Consider such referrals a twofer: You avoid the grievances that come from representing the unstable while educating the regulators that for most folks the practice of law isn't peaches,cream and a self-congratulatory pat on the back.