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Letters to the Editor

The role of lawyers in the current economic debacle

In recent months, the State Bar has proudly reported on the efforts of its Loan Modification Task Force, which has prosecuted attorneys accused of loan modification misconduct. To the extent that the State Bar task force has protected consumers, these efforts are admirable.

However, perhaps the resources of the State Bar would be better allocated if a task force were created to investigate the role of California attorneys in the creation and marketing of complex derivatives such as collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps and other toxic asset financial products.

Certainly, many complex derivatives are valuable financial tools that lubricate the modern credit markets. But a certain percentage of these products were created and valued with reckless disregard of the systemic risk that they spread and the attorneys who papered the deals are at least partially responsible.

Derek Lazzaro
Palos Verdes Estates

It’s the legislature’s fault

In response to the Chief Justice’s comments (November), I would ask those of you who resided in California during the ’70s to turn on Sherman’s Way Back Machine.

Real property taxes were set to nearly double in 1978. Spending on welfare, illegals and other social extravaganzas and, of course, the legislature had soared without any benefit to those of us who paid for this public largesse.

It took a lawsuit by Jarvis et al to obtain this tax increase information.

When Californians realized this, they voted in Prop 13. Short of this Constitutional amendment, via the initiative process, California would have gone in the bag much sooner.

As it is, California continues to lose its most valued citizens, those who pay taxes and provide real jobs. It is not the initiative process that caused/causes problems in California, it is the legislature. Should the California legislature begin to realize that it represents hard-working Californians and small businesses as well as those clamoring for ever increasing benefits, perhaps you will have a body politic that you can trust and which does not require reining in at regular intervals.

For your consideration, I just re-registered my 2009 pick up truck. It cost me $24 in my small Tennessee county. What will it cost you?

Robert Daumiller
Crossville, Tenn.

No protection for little guy

I was disappointed by the favorable treatment provided to Legal-zoom in your “virtual odyssey” article (December). When initially interviewed for this article, I provided some specific examples of how Legalzoom was crossing the line into the practice of law, such as directing customers to choose certain legal forms, assisting customers with the content of trademark applications, etc.

Instead of addressing such issues, the spokesman for Legalzoom was given a forum to spin his business model as being in “full compliance” with the Business and Professions Code. Of course, he did not mention that the North Carolina Bar Association has found Legalzoom in violation of that state’s unauthorized practice of law statute. He also failed to mention that this mere “forms service” is listed as the actual correspondent on a number of federal trademark applications.

Once again, it really seems as though the State Bar cares little for the concerns of the solo and small firm lawyers who make up the bulk of the bar in California. This is a situation that directly affects hundreds of lawyers in this state, but there is more ink given to Legalzoom’s response than to the problem itself.

If it was an issue that affected large firms, I think it would be a different story. This apparent disregard for the concerns of solo and small firm attorneys makes me quite ambivalent about the governor’s vetoing of the spending bill.

Why should we care about funding an organization that does little to protect our interests?

John E. Russell

A vote of no confidence

The governor’s veto message concerning SB 641 recited what every lawyer in California has known for years — the State Bar is an inefficiently run organization that allowed the embezzlement of $676,000 from its treasury, the sanctimonious zealots who run the State Bar have a political agenda that they pursue to the exclusion of the actual purpose of the organization and its JNE Commission isn’t really impartial.


If this surprises anyone, you need to cut back on the Kool-Aid. Would I voluntarily belong to this pathetic organization if membership were not mandated by the Supreme Court? I join with a vast majority of attorneys in California in expressing a resounding vote of “NO” (actually, make that “No Confidence”).

Richard A. Umbenhauer
Indian Wells

Close the bar’s LA office

Why does the bar have two “headquarters”? The San Francisco office does the work and the Los Angeles office is just a worthless money pit, in my opinion.

It’s high time that the L.A. office be closed.

According to bar President Miller, the bar will be conducting a “top to bottom” fiscal review. Hopefully, that review will find closing the bar’s L.A. office important and necessary.

Edward M. Teyssier
National City

Transparency needed

It takes the governor’s veto of a dues bill to get the attention of the State Bar’s bloated bureaucracy. While employees in the private and public sectors undergo pay cuts and lay-offs, the State Bar bureaucrats merrily roll along, gorging themselves on outrageous raises, while ignoring ongoing embezzlement of State Bar funds and belatedly recognizing the role nefarious lawyers play in the financial and housing crisis.

Shine light on the insular world of the State Bar by publishing the salaries of State Bar executives, the number of employees hired in the last five years with the pay grade of each hiree, and the number of current employees at each State Bar pay grade.

The arrogance of the State Bar is appalling.

Carol Fickenscher Nowicki
Castro Valley


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