The Legal Marketplace
In the September/October President’s Page, the president proposes to stimulate the “profession’s evolution” by focusing more on “the legal marketplace.”
The Florida Supreme Court says, “The purpose of The Florida Bar shall be to inculcate in its members’ the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the science of jurisprudence.” This should not allow the adoption of rules that only make some lawyers richer, but cause financial harm to other Bar members. Bar rules should also protect the many lawyers who devote their activities to making the world better and safer for all of the public rather than just “making money.”
The president states that if all households and small businesses who could afford lawyers actually hired them, it would “add about $100 billion annual revenue to the U.S. legal market.” To get this money he says lawyers must develop rules to “deliver more work to Florida’s attorneys.”
What does this really mean to “the public,” where the money is coming from? Many people who are not lawyers feel that the world would be better if the law would stimulate agreement about disputes rather than force problem-solving to involve law suits. Many people see lawyer greed as the cause of many problems, not the solution. The president wants to make lawyers a “necessity” rather than something that is often needed only for help. If we really believe that the world would be better if more lawyers were making more money, you must ask “which lawyers or law firms,” wherever located, will get all that new business? Of more importance, will the end results for some clients make their life better or worse?
Will the public see these proposals as favoring strongly some lawyers or will they rightly see the rules as strongly favoring some clients at the expense of the public? Should all lawyers be required to follow rules that actually harm them, or, more seriously, harm their clients, potential clients, or the public view of the legal system? I suggest the answer is “no.” Will such rules make our society better or worse? I suggest worse.
Policies and rules developed and applied by The Florida Supreme Court should apply to all lawyers because they focus on protecting the principles of duty and service to the public, the administration of justice, and the science of jurisprudence.
Florida Supreme Court Rules should not be of significant benefit to one type of lawyer or of significant damage to another group of lawyers, especially if such rules are of little benefit to the public as a whole and are only designed for the financial benefit of some lawyers. The practice of law should make the world better for as large a number of people (and even corporations) as possible. The Florida Supreme Court may be the last hope the public has to preserve the idea that lawyers, and the practice of law, is to protect the public, not make lawyers rich.
Frederick William (Bill) Wagner, Tampa