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April 1, 2024 Letters

Letters

Mentoring

Mentoring for inexperienced lawyers is fine, albeit too little and too late.

Lawyers are arguably the only educated professionals in which a degree and certification (i.e., bar passage) does not fully qualify them to engage in practice.
A law school degree should require one full year of apprenticeship during law school involving the handling of actual cases.

With a growing demand for legal representation of folks who cannot afford to hire a lawyer, our legal aid system should incorporate having law school students handle cases and legal matters under proper supervision before they can venture out on their own.

Stephen A. Baker
St. Petersburg

‘A Fear of Lawyers’

I am in the process of writing a book about the history and development of law in the pre-colonial and post-colonial period in America up to the present time. I came across a report in a local paper that I believe would be appreciated by at least 50% of the Bar.

A story that appeared in a Nebraska magazine in 1856 told of an old woman who asked a local lawyer to teach her 7-year-old to be a lawyer. The lawyer asked the woman if she had any older sons who might be better qualified for the legal profession. The woman responded that she did have older sons, but that she and her husband had concluded that although they too would become lawyers, her youngest had the makings of a really first-rate lawyer. When the lawyer asked the woman what her son’s particular qualifications were, she responded:

“Why, do you see sir, he is just seven years old to-day. When he was only five he would lie like the devil; when he got to be six, he was sassy and impudent as any crittur (sic). And now he will steal everything he can lay his hands on. No sir if he ain’t fit for a lawyer, I would like to know what he would have to learn?”
The lawyer responded. “Pretty well educated, I should think.”

I would recommend to any lawyer with an interest in how we got here a law review article Seton Hall Law Review Vol: 29:1405 “The Public Hates Lawyer: Why Should We Care?”

My point is that the public in general have a fear of lawyers because of the nature of the legal profession. We tear families apart, put people in jail, and sometimes kill them.

The Florida Bar has spent millions of dollars defending restricting “sleazy advertising” by primarily P.I. lawyers to absolutely no avail on the slim and dubious basis to protect the “image of lawyers,” which nobody can define. Bootstrapping at its worst.
History has shown otherwise.

See also, Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America 277 (Bradley ED. 1945).

Max Radin, Handbook of Anglo-American Legal History 259-60 (1936).

“Fit for a lawyer” Nebraska Adventurer, October 25, 1856.

Laurence A. Steel
St. Petersburg

Be Welcoming

With legislation targeting the transgender community and the general coarsening of public rhetoric, it is important for us lawyers to remember one thing: Transgender folks are people, too. They have hopes and fears, dreams and obligations, just like everyone else. They want to get a driver’s license, graduate from school, build a family, travel, and grow a career without being impeded or having to go into detail about their private lives.

My family law practice has welcomed transgender clients in a non-judgment atmosphere since its founding in 2010. We have done so not only because it is the decent thing to do — which it is — but also because it makes good business sense.

Imagine you are going through divorce, and you walk into a lawyer’s office. You are likely in the middle of a maelstrom of emotions: fear, anger, rejection, heartache. On top of that, imagine you are transgender, and you also have to wonder whether you are being judged or can safely speak with the attorney in front of you.

In my experience, once someone from the trans community realizes that you are there to help them and be supportive as they are facing challenging times, it turns out that you are not only advocating for them; oftentimes, they become your biggest advocate and want to let others know about your services.

Regardless of your practice area, I urge you: Be decent. Be kind. And be smart. Offer a welcoming and non-judgment environment to everyone you meet, including those in the trans community.

Adam B. Cordover
Tampa

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