Letters to the Editor
Letters: U.S. Needs New Worldview
Posted Jan 1, 2012 4:40 AM CST
U.S. Needs New Worldview
Regarding “The New World,” November: It’s going to be hard for New York lawyers to persuade Brazil to let them open offices in Brazil and advise clients on Brazilian law when New York doesn’t afford the same courtesy to Brazilian firms that might want to open an office in New York. And (I think) New York still hasn’t cracked the New Jersey attorney restrictions.
Dean N. Alterman
A decade ago, I studied this issue extensively from a Canadian perspective. I share the opinion of Anthony E. Davis, quoted as saying, “The solution is to replace our existing regulatory patchwork with a single national regulator and uniform rules of professional conduct.”
U.S. lawyers will have to eat the food they cook before serving it to others. And the cultural obstacles are so much more intricate between countries than they can be inside one country.
If liberalization of legal services is to take place on the international scene, there is not one justification to keep the actual balkanization of jurisdictions inside a single country. The challenges are daunting to change the old philosophy of protectionism in the profession. It all comes together with the idea that law is cultural and territorial, and it can clash head-on with democracy.
According to the current state regulations, the only states in which I, a British barrister, am permitted to sit for the bar without much hardship are California and New York. What about the other 48? American state bars must recognize that we live in a world of quid pro quo.
I think a good example is the new Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme in the U.K. The scheme was introduced about a year ago by the English Law Society and is specifically designated as a fast-track route for foreign lawyers who want to requalify as solicitors in England.
The QLTS replaced the previous scheme and removed any experience or training requirement. A November press release from QLTS School states that the U.K. solicitors’ conversion test is most popular among U.S. attorneys, according for 28 percent of the total applications.
While there are talks to implement a similar program in the U.S., nothing has really changed in the last decades.
Excellent article. But the solution should be simple and direct, and it is in practice. Large U.S. firms often have offices in several states. To function in a particular state, the firm must have lawyers within its firm licensed in that state. Work for clients in that state are conducted under the aegis of those licenses. Any lawyer may meet with the client and figure out the solution and advice; but the advice is ultimately issued under and through the local state-licensed attorney, and the locally licensed attorneys bear the responsibility and liability for error and malpractice.
Because litigation is so idiosyncratic to each jurisdiction, it is proper that no foreign-licensed lawyer appear before a local tribunal without the presence of the local licensee and admission pro hac vice, which still requires the local lawyer’s presence, participation and oversight.
The São Paulo bar’s effort is the problem. It is attempting to prohibit even affiliations between foreign and Brazilian lawyers. That is ultimately an absurdity when all major business transactions now involve multiple countries and business entities. How far does the São Paulo bar think it will go to define “affiliation” to find and prosecute a wrongly affiliated attorney?
Salt Lake City
Keeping an Eye on Privacy
Regarding “Sky-High Spy,” November, about GPS probing and privacy: This case should be followed with both interest and concern. The warrant requirement here is not overly burdensome, nor is there an argument for exigency.
Giving law enforcement carte blanche to track citizens’ every movement with no review of the reasons, probable cause or length of surveillance, we step closer to an Orwellian existence. This stretches the “knowingly exposed to the public” doctrine beyond belief. If there were ever a slippery slope argument, there is one here.
Putting aside for a moment the question of whether this is a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes (whether reasonable or unreasonable), wouldn’t the installation of a GPS tracking device on a person’s car constitute a “seizure” of that person’s property?
What if, instead of installing a GPS device, the police duct-taped an FBI agent to the roof of the subject car? Suppose that when the suspected drug dealer/terrorist/purveyor of raw milk, etc., came out of his house in the morning to find the special agent attached to his car, the suspect asked the agent to get off his car? Suppose the agent responded by saying, “No. Your car is in a public place, so I have every right to be attached to your car, and to take down notes about every single place this car goes 24 hours a day for the next month.”
The suspect then asks, “How can you do these things, without a warrant, in the USA, land of the free and home of the brave?!?”
To which the special agent replies, “Well, the government commissioned a 10-year, $13.7 million study by a blue-ribbon commission to determine the most effective and efficient manner of gathering data concerning the public movements of a citizen’s automobile, and this is what they came up with.”
Would the attachment of such an FBI agent to one’s car (or the attachment of one’s car to such an agent, depending on your point of view) not constitute a seizure of the car?
Dissent on Lawyer Superheroes
Regarding “Zoinks! There’s a Lawyer Wearing Spandex!” November: Jean Loring, a lawyer, should have at least snagged the 10 spot—she’s not a superhero but married to one (Atom, DC Comics). She cheated on him, was driven insane by her adulterous ways and killed another superhero’s wife. That’s all I’m saying.
Long Beach, Calif.
Sorry, folks. Wolff & Byrd win (if Harvey Birdman and Lionel Hutz are out on technicalities).
Addressing Electronic Service
“Our Pleasure to Serve You,” October, about using social networking sites to notify defendants, is a great article. The ABA Science & Technology Law Section’s e-filing subcommittee adopted Best Practices for Electronic Service of Process in 2006. They are at www2.americanbar.org/sections/scitech/ST230005/PublicDocuments/BestPractices - HTML.htm.