Scott Rothstein and the legal profession’s image

by Walter Olson on December 10, 2009

The South Florida Daily Business Review finds a range of opinions:

“I don’t think he made us all look bad. I think he made lawyers wearing $5,000 suits and driving $500,000 cars look bad,” said David Markus, a Miami criminal defense attorney.

…Still, if there is only 1 percent of bad lawyers in a state with 85,000 attorneys, the public could be more than vulnerable, [Nova Southeastern law professor Robert] Jarvis said.

“That is 850 rogue attorneys. That is a lot of rogues,” Jarvis said.

(& welcome WSJ Law Blog readers)

{ 6 comments }

1 Bob Lipton 12.10.09 at 8:53 am

And, of course it’s all about how you look.

Bob

2 Ron Miller 12.10.09 at 9:00 am

True. But the reality is there are 1% rogues among heads of nonprofits, politicians, doctors, plumbers, and Indian chiefs.

3 Jack Olson 12.10.09 at 9:45 am

Mr. Miller, you claim that other occupations have as high a proportion of dishonest practitioners as lawyers do. If so, why do lawyer share such a far lower reputation for integrity than other professions? The 2008 Gallup poll reported that 64% of the public considers medical doctors’ ethics to be high or very high, vs. only 18% for lawyers. If the proportion of dishonest doctors is as high as the proportion of dishonest lawyers, why does the public both professions serve regard the doctors as so much more honest than the lawyers?

4 bfs 12.10.09 at 9:48 am

True. But the reality is there are 1% rogues among heads of nonprofits, politicians, doctors, plumbers, and Indian chiefs.

Agreed. But you mistake the rhetorical device you attack. Because law is a profession that offers special rewards for rogues, far more than 1% of lawyers are rogues.

5 William Nuesslein 12.12.09 at 10:03 am

A few years ago I used to follow trials on court TV. It was nice to see lawyers work their hearts out for their clients. The Amhed Diablo trial was fascinating. He was shot 41 times in total by four New York City policemen. He was unarmed and simply standing on the stoop of his apartment building. The trial showed us where everybody was and how the tragedy unfolded. The medical examiner said that Mr. Diablo’s body was staged because the shot through the bottom of his foot was inconsistent with the resting place of his leg. Ms. Elliot described the event as a shooting gallery. She was filled with rage and determined to see justice done in accordance with her anti-police standard. She was asked about Mr. Diablo’s position. Reacting to a perceived challenge to her veracity, she stated definitively as to Mr. Diablo’s position, which confirmed that the body was not moved. The police were properly acquitted. The prosecutors in that case were much too political.

In most civil matters, and sometimes in criminal matters, each lawyer is the enemy of the opposite side, and the other side will tend to see the opposing lawyer in a bad light. Beyond that of course there is the problem of scoundrels like John Edwards who play the system for large paydays. In those cases it is the American people who do the harm. Judges and Jurors have to have more respect for rationality. We should replace the moronic No Child left Behind policy with No Juror Left Behind.

6 Litigiator 12.12.09 at 2:08 pm

Speaking of how one looks: I got caught in slow freeway traffic here in Chicago behind a top-of-the-line Mercedes coupe with the nausating licence plate “ONE THRD”.

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