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Letters to the Editor

Technology outpacing the law

I believe Richard Susskind's comments are right on the mark. While the law is traditionally slow to embrace change, the speed at which technology is moving has greatly widened the “slowness gap.”Laws and regulations are necessary to an orderly society. However, when the law falls too far behind it will become largely irrelevant, at least in day-to-day matters which will be addressed by dealings among the interested parties. At the current pace, resolution of most disputes is moot by the time the legal system addresses the issue. It can only get worse without meaningful change.

Lee A. Garry
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Professor’s suggestions are out of touch

I just read an article that quotes USC Gould School of Law professor Gillian Hadfield. She, apparently, fancies herself an expert on “fixing” the practice of law.

Perhaps Hadfield’s motives are well intentioned, but she is stunningly out of touch with reality. I read her bio – I have little doubt that her dearth of any experience in the actual practice of law contributed to her all-consuming myopia. But suggesting that lawyers should charge $40 an hour is shockingly, exceedingly stupid. I practice on my own, with a single-person support staff. I carry minimum insurance coverage and little overhead. Yet, If I charged $40 an hour, I would need to work 100 hours every week (or about 5,000 hours a year) and bill 80 hours out of those 100 just to pay the bills. I’d have little to take home is the upshot. Mechanics charge $100 an hour. Plumbers bill at $75 an hour, but lawyers, apparently, should bill at $40 and then pay the massive overhead? It was April 1, so perhaps that article was meant as a “practical” joke. If not, Ms. Hadfield is, in my opinion, a poor source for suggestions on law practice.

It’s akin to someone who studied and teaches economics, but never actually worked a day in her life, lecturing restaurateurs on how to run a restaurant and then suggesting that because there are poor people they should reduce their meal costs by 80 percent. I’m stunned at the utter stupidity of her suggestion.

James P. Thompson
Westlake Village, Calif.

Factual hearings lacking in some discipline cases

I am concerned that our State Bar disciplinary section has been increasingly relying on “deemed admitted” accusations as facts on which to rely in the determination of sanctions. Even in small claims court, most jurisdictions require the plaintiff to prove up a prima facie case before entering a default. It is, obviously, convenient to omit this important step. Accusations are easy to make, particularly when the respondent is imprisoned, mentally tormented, or incompetent. Absolutely: many undeserving jerks require sanctions. But even the worst of these incompetent, unrepentant, unresponsive or otherwise defectives should not be sanctioned without at least a minimal hearing to establish the facts.

Damon Swank
Torrance, Calif.

Editor’s note: Under the State Bar Rules of Procedure, factual allegations of attorney misconduct are “deemed admitted” only when an attorney fails to participate in the disciplinary proceedings against him or her.


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