Toward a Civility Rights State
Our Florida Bar president wonders what might happen if no answers what he calls the clarion call. Don’t worry. I am prepared to answer that clamor for my attention.
I will heed the call for professionalism, just as Paul Revere did on his famous polite ride to inform John Hancock and Samuel Adams that a British assault was inevitable against some of the best and brightest of our people. Without a moment’s hesitation, I will proceed as carefully and quietly as possible, so as not to wake the neighbors or alarm citizens unnecessarily.
I will place a proof-read note underneath the door of Mr. Hancock’s legal residence, with perhaps one of fuller clarity and explanation beneath that of Mr. Adams’. I will knock softly enough to avoid disturbing their families.
As for responding to missiles coming to Cuba, I would make certain that Nikita Khrushchev understands that I expect a civil response to my thoughtful request to examine the photos I have been privileged to see through our innovative technology. I would give him the chance to agree that sites being built in Cuba are not in the best interests of children anywhere.
I also would offer my worthy Russian adversary the opportunity to settle any difference he might have with my meritorious conclusions about the facts through an always impartial U.S. judge. Finally, I would remind him that any shoe-banging on the table would be rude, and, therefore, unacceptable to The Florida Bar, especially the Florida Blue Key members among the organization’s leaders.
As for acting appropriately in response to an invasion of air, sea, and land space near Pearl Harbor, I would look to the future, to this summer when a Japanese Little League team bested a baseball nine from California. The lesson is clear. If you come in peace, you can play in our World Series. If you want war, your people can expect nothing less than two nuclear bombs.
Wait. I almost forgot. What about that working father with four children who is facing eviction? I may not know anything about landlord-tenant provisions, but as someone with knowledge of entertainment law, I do see potential in a possible situation comedy.
The lessons are clear. With professionalism, we can all get along. If we practice civility, we can dispense with civil rights altogether, as we march hand-in-hand in this century when nobody pays attention to the color of one’s skin or that of his or her neighbor’s, as some people used to do in the North. Together, we can make Florida the first truly civility rights state.
Gabe Kaimowitz, Gainesville
The Clarion Call
President Pettis hit the nail on the head by identifying two huge issues facing this state’s Bar in his September/October President’s Page: 1) The proliferation of young and untrained lawyers, and 2) the drying up of funding for legal aid. Both threaten the very fabric of the legal profession as too many lawyers mean too many lawyers willing to tell a client what they want to hear in order to keep the doors open (loss of professional independence), and, despite the bloated and insincere promotional rhetoric in increasingly pervasive television advertising, can we truly say lawyers as a group provide a benefit to the public when dwindling legal aid funding means we do not really serve those most needy of our services? In short, if something is not done about these problems, the legal profession will become merely a business and not a profession at all (some would say we are already there).
To me, the solution is simple: These problems started even before “The Great Recession,” with a proliferation of law schools that are low-overhead, high-profit, cash cows for the universities or shareholders who operate them. It is time for a reckoning, and that reckoning is to cut back the classroom portion of law school to two years, while extending the overall requirement to four years. The second two years would consist of working full-time in a legal aid clinic, and you would not be able to take the bar exam until that obligation is complete. The law school would split the tuition with the legal aid clinic, with the majority thereof going to the latter, rather than the former, so that additional staff attorneys could be paid to mentor and guide the aspiring lawyers. Gone will be the safe haven that law school offers to unemployed and underemployed, college grads who seek the refuge of three more years nestled in the soft bosom of academia while dreaming media fueled delusional dreams of the mountains of cash that await them in the legal profession (dreams which only about five percent of lawyers even approach); replaced with a bona fide gut-check which both serves those who are now not served, and imparts to those who have what it takes to make it through with the skills they will need to survive and serve their paying clients when they pass the bar and are turned loose on the public at large.
You want to sound the clarion call? Sound it in the ivory tower! And if no one answers, then it is time to storm the tower, and implement change by force; change or see your graduates denied a seat at the bar exam!
R. Howard Walton, Jacksonville