The Florida Bar
The Florida Bar News
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October 1, 2012

Merit Retention Education
Enough already with the Bar’s presumptuous merit retention education effort (front page, September 1 News).

Thanks to the salutary example of the three ousted Iowa justices , those who might profit from some merit retention education, i.e., Florida’s appellate judges, have received it.

James I. Ridley

The results of the most recent primary elections of circuit and county court judges reinforces my opinion, and that of several other attorneys who wrote to the News, objecting to the expenditure of time and resources to “educate” the public about the role of judges in our state and their vulnerability when rendering unpopular decisions.

Focusing only on circuit judge races shows that in the 14 races where an incumbent judge was a candidate, 13 judges retained their positions. In the one race where the incumbent lost, he was barely defeated by 8.2 percent of the votes cast.

The most telling of the races was in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, where Chief Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over the Casey Anthony trial, which resulted in a very unpopular verdict (at least in Orlando), won his race with 57.4 percent of the popular vote.

In my 41 years as an attorney, judges lose elections when they have developed a reputation of treating people rudely or when they have committed some moral indiscretion that the media picks up on.

Wallace W. Hardy

Too Many Lawyers?
Why anyone would want to be a lawyer is beyond me.

National Public Radio reported September 17 that 55 percent of all family law cases in Sarasota County now involve at least one pro se litigant. The story indicated that the sorry state of the economy has led many people to forgo the $1,500 to $2,000 it costs to retain counsel and instead represent themselves. For every pro se litigant, I promise you there is at least one starving lawyer with more than 10 years experience who would cut his fee just to make payroll for the week.

And the current issue of the News quotes Bar leaders saying, “There were about 3,000 people sitting for the bar exam, and by September 2011, the Bar would have another 2,500 lawyers, and Florida’s legal profession did not have 2,500 more jobs.”

I am very glad that I am closer to the end of my career than the beginning. My student loans are finally paid off, and I have a little money saved for retirement. I cannot imagine trying to start a practice in the current economic environment. The sheer number of lawyers advertising on television should tell us all how competitive the practice has become.

Frankly, I don’t think we need any more lawyers. The law schools and the Bar really need to get a grip on this situation soon before we all have to go looking for work in the tourism industry.

John W. Gardner

[Revised: 04-15-2017]