Legal Ethics and Reform
Famous Quotes & Interesting Statistics About Lawyers, Judges, etc.
Note: A new item is added to this list every week. Check back
often to have your preconceptions about our legal system challenged.
..."presently, law school
graduates will be the subject of three or
more claims for legal malpractice before
finishing a career." ...
Ronald E. Mallen
and Jeffrey M. Smith
"In 1930, Justice Oliver Wendell
Holmes declared 'I cannot believe that the (14th)
Amendment was intended to give us carte
blanche to embody our ...moral
beliefs in its prohibitions.' In
Ex Parte Quirin (1942), the
court stated that 'courts possess no
power not derived from the
Constitution.' Article V of the
Constitution provides for the
method by which it may be amended.
It remained the exclusive method of
amendment until 1958 when the court
-- in Cooper v. Aaron --
declared that its decisions were
the 'supreme Law of the
Robert Donnelly, Former Chief Justice of the
Missouri Supreme Court
lawyers today believe) all rules, including the rules of professional
ethics, are infinitely manipulable."
. Harvard Law Prof. Mary Ann
proper or just outcome (of a trial) is defined as
of following the right procedures. Our lawyers'
code of ethics then is a code of
procedure; it no longer uses
such moral words as right,
wrong, good, or bad." ...
Thomas L. Shaffer
have often marveled at the law's provisional
and contigent view of the truth, as
befits a profession that may have to
argue the next case from the opposite
side. The adversary is not illness (as
in the case of a physician) but another
attorney. Legal facts can differ from
one court or one week to the next,
depending on who argued the case, what
the parties stipulated, how the jury
selection broke, and what are called
the 'atmospherics' of a
..."In New York,
payouts in (medical) malpractice cases rose 30,000 percent between the
1950's and the 1980's."...
the curious case of asbestos litigation, a
huge profit maker for trial lawyers,
... Until Manville Corp. went bankrupt
in 1982, it was the chief target of
asbestos lawsuits, and witnesses
called by plaintiff's attorneys
regularly testified that Manville
supplied 75 to 80 percent of the
asbestos products used in the shipyards
where their clients worked. Just
months after Manville's bankruptcy,
witnesses suddenly began testifying
that Manville shipped only 25 percent and
pointed the finger at other, still
solvent targets. One witness had
trouble getting with the new program.
'Basiclly, most of the materials,
John-Manville, I'm sure was used on
all of them' he testified at a
deposition, but then added,'I wasn't
supposed to mention that, was
handbooks these days do everything but
condone outright lying. One work on
product liability advises lawyers to
encourage the client to use
'descriptive terminology' in
describing his pain to the jury. He
should not say his head feels 'bad'
rather that it feels like 'having
the top of his head blown off.' The
article prudently cautions, however,
that 'the attorney must not place
himself in the position where he is
suspected of having coached his
U S News and World
Report (Jan 30, 1995)
auditors with whom we spoke all agreed that the following
practices, if not routine, were not rare
either, demonstrating that some lawyers
believe that dishonesty is the best
+ Lawyers billing unworked hours, sometimes
more than there are in the day.
+ Senior partners billing their time for
work actually performed by support
personnel, work that therefore should have
been billed at a substantially lower rate.
+ Firms charging for filling in the blanks
in legal "forms", documents preprepared and
used repeatedly, as if the lawyer had
created the documents from scratch.
+ Lawyers advising clients not to accept
reasonable settlements so that the case and
the billing can continue.
+ Lawyers taking unnecessary depositions. ...
+ Lawyers living in luxury at the client's
expense, such as using limousine services,
staying in four star hotels, and eating at
expensive restaurants. ...
+ Firms failing to provide detailed billing
statements, making it impossible for
clients to monitor the accuracy of the
. Ralph Nader and Wesley
a perception among the pro-reform members of the Massachusetts legislature
that the practicing lawyer-legislators in
Massachusettes band together to block any court
reform legislation.... (and) the legislative committee
with jurisdiction over court reform issues is
captured by the the lawyer-legislators who continue
to practice law in the state. .... (Many) nonlawyer
members felt the cost of state courts needed to be
trimmed and that consolidation of many state courts
was necessary. ...a Boston Globe series ...
indicated that lawyer-legislators are often big
winners in the state trial courts. Any changes in
judicial personnel or arrangements could be seen as
an attack on their lucrative practices."....
MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATORS' VIEWS ON
ALLOWING LAWYER LEGISLATORS TO PRACTICE
IN MASSACHUSETTS STATE COURTS
TYPE OF SHOULD PRACTICE SHOULD NOT PRACTICE
LAWYERS 75% 25%
NON-LAWYERS 0% 100%
Note: The suvey obtained responses from 24 legislators.
Twelve lawyers and twelve non-lawyers.
Carpinello and Mark
... "Many lawyer-legislators see politics as
their primary profession, and they often obtained a
law degree merely to help them become
. Mark C. Miller
the 195 lawyers who served in the House in 1989, 45% fell into the
nominal lawyer category and 55% were real
lawyers with more than five years of experience in the
practice of law before getting into politics."
. Ann L. Brownson and Phil Duncan
1988, nine of thirteen prominent major party candidates for president
were lawyers. Only George Bush, Paul Simon,
Jack Kemp and Jesse Jackson were non-lawyers.
In 1988, both Gov. Dukakis and Sen. Bentsen
were lawyers. And, of course, Vice Presdient
Dan Quayle is a lawyer, as is his wife."
Prof. Mark C. Miller
US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE COMMITTEES
RANKED BY ATTRACTIVENESS & PRESTIGE (1989)
with Percentage of Lawyers Shown
(Note: Total House Membership in 1989 was only 42% lawyers)
Committee Rank Lawyer Members(%)
Rules 1 53
Ways & Means 2 44
Appropriations 3 49
Budget 4 47
Energy & Commerce 5 61
Armed Services 6 45
Gov't Operations 7 41
Foreign Affairs 8 48
Agriculture 9 34
Merchant Marine & Fisheries 10 41
Public Works & Transport 11 29
Sceince & Technology 12 55
Interior & Insular Affairs 13 33
Judiciary 14 97
House Administration 15 32
Banking and Urban Affairs 16 35
Veterans Affairs 17 36
Dist of Columbia 18 20
Post Office & Civil Service 19 39
Education and Labor 20 31
. Glenn R. Parker & Suzanne L.
..also see Lawrence Dodd and Bruce I.
1877 and 1934, more
than 70% of the presidents, vice presidents, and cabinet members combined
..."This is a suit fore Mule Steeling in
which Jesus Ramirez is indited for steeling one black
mare mule, branded 0 with a 5 in it, from Sheriff
Werk. George swares the mule in question is hisn and I
beleeve so to on hearing the caze I found Jesus
Ramirez gilty of feloaniusly and against the law made
and provided and the dignity of the people of Sonora
steelin the aforesade mare mule sentenced him to pay
the costs of Coort $10 and fined him $100 more as a
terrour to all evil dooers. Jesus Ramirez not having
any munney to pay with I rooled that Geroge Werk
shuld pay the costs of coort, as well as the fine, and
in defalt of payment that the said one mare mule be
sold by the Constable John Luney or other officer of
the Court to meet the expenses of the Costs of the
Coort, and also the payment of the fine
"H. P. Barber the lawyer
for George Werk insolently told me there were no law
for me to rool so, I told him that I didn't care a
damn for his booklaw, that I was the law myself. He
continued to jaw back I told him to shut up but he
wouldn't I fined him $50 and committed him to gaol for
5 days for contempt of Coort in bringing my roolings
and dississions into disreputableness end as a warning
to unrooly persons not to contradict this Coort."
opionion of Justice of the Peace R. C. Barry in a case entitled IN
RE JESUS RAMIREZ issued on Aug. 21, 1851 in Sonora, California
..."The number of lawyers
employeed by the
Federal government has grown rapidly over the years and appears to be
continuing to increase. Between 1954 and 1970, the number of
self-employed lawyers in the U.S. increased by 19% while the
number of lawyers in the Federal government increased by 108%
and the number employed by state government increased by
. Richard L. Abel
..."Today, government attorneys comprise about 15% of all
. Paul Wice
..."I believe there are
instances of abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent
encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden
. James Madison (1751 - 1836)
..."Law school seems to change people's behavior;
lawyer-legislators have a superiority complex. On
technecial issues, clearly they know more than you do.
But generally they are so vague and abstract. Some of
the lawyer-legislators here are very narrow and not
very bright. They use their legal training to see the
world in a very restricted way, but they can't
generalize to make the kind of quality decisions that
legislators must make every day. They have tunnel
. Comment of a non-lawyer member of the
... "I should apologize perhaps,
for the style of this bill. I dislike the verbose and intricate style of
English statutes, and in our revised code I endeavored to
restore it to the simple one of ancient statutes, in such
original bills as I drew in the work. I suppose the
reformation has not been acceptable, as it has been little
followed. You, however, can easily correct this bill to the
taste of my brother lawyers, by making every other word 'said'
or 'aforesaid' and saying everything over two or three times,
so nobody but we of the craft can untwist the diction, and
find out what it means; and that, too, not so plainly but that
we may conscientiously divide one half on each side.. "...
Thomas Jefferson (1743 -
..."The lawyer-legislator is more likely to
concern himself with questions concerning the language
of proposed bills or with the constitutionality of
legislation. There is an observable tendency on the
part of nonlawyer members to defer to the judgement of
their lawyer colleagues on such 'legal' questions. ...
In the state legislatures, particularly in states
where bill-drafting services are not available, a
lawyer-legislator usually does a substantial amount of
actual drafting. The great usefulness of a competent
lawyer in a typical legislature is principally a
matter of his ability to detect and correct 'sleepers'
and technecial defects in bills." ...
. Albert P.
Blaustein and Charles O. Porter
..."Eulau and Sprague's (1964) study on lawyers in the state
legislatures of New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and
California reported some sharp complaints by nonlawyers
about their lawyer colleagues. Said one nonlawyer,'Lawyers
draw up laws so nobody including themselves can understand
them. It makes business for them. Judges have to decide in
courts what laws mean and sometimes they reverse
themselves. Laws could be drafted that would be clear and
simple if they wanted to'. Another nonlawyer is quoted,
'Lawyers are lousy legislators because they have too much
of a technical attitude. They can't look at it as a
layman can. They can't see practical problems. They are too much
interested in legal technicalities. The lawyer is good to defend you or
give you legal advice, he's not good to represent all the people. The
average layman is better equipped to be a legislator.'.."
. Heinz Eulau and John D. Sprague
"The advantages enjoyed by lawyers in the American political
opportunity structure can easily be appreciated. Lawyers are
generally eligible for all offices for which their fellow politicians are
eligible, but only lawyerrs are generally qualified to hold a
large number of elective and appointive legal posts such as
judge, prosecuting attorney, attorney general, and the like.
They are thus advantaged in their ability to advance in
their careers primarily because they are able to monopolize
important routes of political advancement."
. Paul L. Hain and James E. Piereson
Percentage of Lawyer Members of National Legislatures for Selected
Countries during Various Time Periods
.Source: Mark C. Miller - page 60 - HIGH PRIESTS OF AMERICAN
..."If the bar is to state quite honestly the measure of its
participation in public life, it must admit that law-trained persons
maintain a complete monopoly over one branch of government, and
considerable effective control over the other two."
Esther Lucile Brown ( - )
..."The number of people
who have little or no respect for lawyers has nearly doubled in eight
years, rising to 44 % from 25% in 1988."...
reported by ......
.......Decision Research, a trial
consulting firm from Lexington, MA
..."I asked Cuomo if his alleged thin skin would affect his
possible Presidential campaign. Cuomo replied 'If by thin skinned you
mean very, very quick to respond - that's what I've done for a
lifetime. I'd been a lawyer for twenty years. You can't let a comment
from a witness pass. If there is a jury, everything is important' . "
"Cuomo (evidently) experiences life as a courtroom; reporters are
witnesses to be cross-examined, voters as juries. This much is
irreducibly part of his nature."
. Johnathan Alter ( - )
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