The Department of Justice has accused more than one bar association of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act.Louisiana and Vermont licensure systems inquired as to the mental health of applicants. Apparently, some of the same questions of which the complaint by DOJ is registered are asked in a standard national Conference of Bar Examiners questionnaire.
The Bar is not qualified to conduct a mental health diagnosis or treatment, according to the DOJ. Past behavior ... conduct ... can be reviewed, but not one's state of mind or status.
I wonder how this analysis will resonate with those who complain that one's competency to act as an attorney can be judged by one's age. Shouldn't conduct be the standard? Aren't you presumed innocent (i.e., competent) until proven otherwise? That would be ageism ... a status I think that is also protected by law.
The IRS lost its appeal to institute competency exams for as many as 700,000 paid tax preparers. The federal court said the IRS lacked the authority to impose the new rules without congressional authorization. While this argument would not likely hold water as concerns additional licensing requirements for lawyers, the arguments used rang a bell.
For example, i) the proposed regulations were onerous; ii) the proposed regulations would have put thousands of mom-and-pop tax preparers out of business. On the other side of the coin, the IRS needed to weed out ill-trained and incompetent tax preparers.
Paid tax preparers fill out 60% of all U.S. tax returns and the government has found significant problems over the years by the work done by this group.
The arguments are all to familiar and can be super-imposed on the legal profession where more than 60% of the practitioners are solo.
The question always is "how good does good have to be?" What would these people do if they couldn't find a tax preparer (substitute attorney) at a price they could afford to pay for work that was substantially correct,even if not perfect?
I would like perfection ... but even the best lawyers from major law schools (in my experience) are not perfect ... are always at a price that most of us can't afford to pay. As one of my mentors has said, don't shoot for perfection; when you're 80% good, go!
Related to this, though by a stretch, I listened to an NPR program in the last couple of days that talked about teenage suicide, a growing epidemic. The psychologists maintain that the stress caused by our current generation seeking perfection, and then realizing they can't reach that goal, is the catalyst for many suicide attempts.
To the IRS and to the Bar: Define "competence" so our professionals can attain the standard and the average American citizen can afford to engage professional assistance.
In today's WSJ, there is an article about investment industry fiduciaries. Apparently, the Department of Labor is moving forward in requiring brokers and investment advisers to avoid conflicts of interests.
And, the SEC, under the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law of 2010 can develop different standards for brokers and advisers. The latter group must avoid conflicts, but the former group must only disclose a conflict.
What a concept! In other words, if a stock broker's company is underwriting the stock, the broker need only disclose the conflict. Try that in other professions, especially lawyers!
If we have a conflict of interest, we must do more than disclose. We must excuse ourselves. Yes, there can be a waiver, but that is not looked on with favor.
Of course, we follow the almighty dollar. The investment community is outraged that the DOL should believe it unlawful to proceed with a conflict of interest ... We'll see how this plays out.
The Problem with Bankruptcy Isn't Attorneys' Fees, It's Executive Incompetence - As Posted in Alan Weiss's Contrarian Consulting Blog.
Recently my article about Who Sets The Lawyer Fees was used as a guest blog by Alan Weiss. The blog discusses the recent Wall Street Journal article about the Justice Department's attempt to control fees that the bankruptcy lawyers seek, and the possibility that the U.S. Trustee Program may now be entering the fray.
In case you missed it, here's the link to Alan's blog: bit.ly/KoDDLx
Five LawBiz Management publications available immediately in Amazon’s electronic format
Venice, CA – November 4, 2011. Attorneys and law firms who are looking to improve the profitability of their practices now have a new way to access the practical guides to profit of award-winning law business management coach and consultant Ed Poll.
Effective immediately, five of Poll’s publications are available as Kindle ebook editions. The publications include:
- Business Competency for Lawyers: A Lawbiz® Management Special Report (ASIN: B004YEMWQ8)
- Disaster Preparedness & Recovery Planning for Law Firms: A LawBiz® Management Special Report (ASIN: B005V5PSZ6)
- Law Firm Fees & Compensation: Value & Growth Dynamics: A LawBiz® Management Special Report (ASIN: B005V5B2JW)
- Secrets of The Business of Law®: Successful Practices for Increasing Your Profits (ASIN: B004YEMXGM)
- The Successful Lawyer-Banker Relationship: A LawBiz® Management Special Report (ASIN: B005V5B9WW)
“I’m excited to be able to offer yet another way for the legal community to access my publications,” said Ed Poll. “As ebooks continue to grow in popularity, I want to ensure that lawyers can access them through whichever medium is most convenient—hard copy, Kindle ebooks, or by using the Kindle app on popular tablets like the iPad.”
Each book is available in the English language in all 4 Amazon.com Kindle stores, in the US, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, at a price of US$9.99. The price includes free wireless delivery via Amazon’s Whispernet. More information about Ed Poll’s books is available at Amazon.com. The books are also available in hard copy format from LawBiz Management at www.lawbizstore.com.
The article by David Streitfeld is a good piece. He's the housing reporter for the NY Times and spends most of his time in California. In response to an earlier piece by him on the subject, where he failed to mention California, I contacted him. He knew nothing about the law in California (since 2009) or the State Bar's modification of its Rules of Professional Conduct that made it a crime to take money from clients in advance of completion of the loan modification, not even for deposit into a client's trust account.
I told him about the new law and pointed him to several of my blog posts on this topic where he could learn more.
I'm glad that he's written about it now, in more detail and highlighted California's experience.
As a side note, an officer of Bank of America claims that of the Bank's loan modifications, more than 70% go back into default within 2 years ... a scary statistic. Should the Bank be responsible for maintaining a family in a home which it can't afford, even with a modified loan structure? I'm not sure ... Or, should the government offer some help. They have bailed out the big banks on Wall Street, how about some help for the people on Main Street? I'm not sure what is the right answer. It's clear, however, that if no one helps, we'll have many more foreclosures in 2011 and 2012. Our political spectrum is so polarized today that all we seem to hear is noise, white noise, and more noise.
BTW, it was a politician seeking headlines that started the ball rolling. And, it was the absence of lawyers in the legislature (only about 23% today) that permitted it. And, a non-lawyer governor who signed it. And, it seems, non-profit organizations who lobbied for it (a little competition there, would you say?). Who gets screwed? The people.
Too bad the State Bar president failed to support sole and small firm lawyers who worked in this area. Rather, he seemed hell bent on chastising the whole because of a few bad apples. Rather, the Bar and the District Attorney could have used the many rules (moral turpitude and others) and laws (Penal Code against theft) already on the books to protect the people scammed by lawyers without removing entirely the good lawyers from this process. Provisions on the books already protect against any lawyer taking money from a client under false pretenses (theft) and the rules of professional conduct protects against moral turpitude and for not performing work that was promised. The State Bar didn't have to follow the urging of the bar president to support this effort.
The state bar president, at the very best, gives no more than lip service to solos ... See my open letter.
California now has its own Watergate ... Seems it wasn't enough that favorite son Pres. Nixon, became enmeshed with the Watergate scandal that ultimately forced his resignation.
California has imported its own version with Sara Palin ... The shredding of a contract and refusal of a public-related entity to disclose the contract arrangements with Ms. Palin for a scheduled speech at the University of California, Stanislaus in June. The attorney general will investigate whether there was a violation of the State's public entity disclosure laws.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ExecSense Publishes Webinar on How to Market Yourself as a Banking Lawyer in 2010, Led By Edward Poll of LawBiz Management Company and Edward Poll & Associates, Inc.
(San Francisco, CA) (February 11th, 2010) Ed Poll, LawBiz Management Company and Edward Poll & Associates, Inc.., has been selected by the speaker board of ExecSense to lead a webinar on “How to Market Yourself as a Banking Lawyer in 2010.” The webinar is now available for download and watching on a computer, mobile device, iPod or printed and viewed offline.
In “How to Market Yourself as a Banking Lawyer in 2010”, ExecSense examines specific ways to use social media web sites, press releases, speaking engagements, and published articles as a way to market yourself and attract more clients in the upcoming year. Take the 60 minutes to view this webinar (on your computer, mobile phone, iPod or printed out) to understand how to do a better job marketing yourself as a banking lawyer through each of these media and the best ways to establish yourself as the go-to banking lawyer that clients will want for their most challenging legal matters in 2010.
According to Catharine Lloyd, head of speaker relations for ExecSense, “We were honored to have Mr. Poll lead a webinar on this topic. His work is highly regarded in the industry and the webinar is a great resource for banking lawyers.”
For complete information or to purchase this webinar, please visit or call us at (415) 453-3003.
About ExecSense Webinars
ExecSense is the largest producer of executive webinars in the world, developing over 500 webinars a year led by hundreds of C-Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, CLO) and partners from 60% of the largest 200 law firms.
Depending on the webinar, it includes audio files and documents in PowerPoint, Word and/or Excel. ExecSense webinars can be viewed on your computer, mobile phone, iPod or printed and viewed offline. Over the course of a year, ExecSense is first-to-the-scene with webinars on breaking news, trends, and skills, often produced within hours of an important event occurring. ExecSense is a privately held company headquartered in San Rafael, California, founded in 2000.
On Tuesday, May 5th, at 9 a.m. PT/12 Noon ET, I will hold my first class for Solo Practice University. We will open with a prepared session about strategic business planning for approx. 1/2 hour and then conduct an open mic session to address all questions of interest to you.
CBS and Katie Couris brought forward an amazing story about diversity. Perhaps you've seen this clip. It's worth seeing again.