Two threats to respect for law and lawyers

1.  $3,000,000 in contributions to elect a Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court who then votes to overturn a $50,000,000 jury verdict against the company owned by the Justice’s benefactor.

2.  The ABA proposal to amend Model Rule 1.10 to permit screening so that, for example, lawyers may switch firms in the middle of a case.

In both instances the message to the public (and to former clients) is “Never mind all the money involved, trust us.  You can trust us.”

Common sense suggests otherwise.  There is, I think, a widespread belief that where a lot of money is involved, there is a significant, almost palpable risk that professional obligation will be undermined by the prospect of private gain, and that it will be virtually impossible to prevent or to prove.

Instead of making withdrawals from its Public Trust Account, the profession should be contributing to it.  If the profession continually chooses commercial convenience over professional integrity, law will become nothing but a business and lawyers will become nothing but businessmen and business women (and elected judges nothing but politicians with special power).

The judicial campaign contribution case is pending before the United States Supreme Court.  The proposal to amend Model Rule 1.10 is pending before the ABA House of Delegates.  Contact your ABA delegate. Stay tuned.