Letters from Our Readers

Letters: Word objections

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Word objections

I found Bryan Garner’s column “New Legalese” (April-May, page 20) interesting, but in two of his entries I see little significance in specific uses of terms that have already been in more general use with the same import and meaning.

A “no-poach provision” referring specifically to hiring from other franchisees within the same company chain is narrow and involves no innovation. The verb “to poach” has been in common use to mean to hire a person from a competitor, especially unfairly, and I have long heard people refer to no-poach understandings that companies may have with each other formally or informally, possibly in violation of the antitrust laws.

The exact three-word term “Red Flags Rule” may date to a Federal Trade Commission regulation in 2023. But the generic use of “red flag” as a synonym for a danger warning is much older, dating perhaps to England’s Red Flag Act (1865-1896) under which any self-powered vehicle on a roadway was required to be preceded by a man carrying a red flag or a lantern.

—Robert Kantowitz
Lawrence, New York

Picturing inclusiveness

I was surprised after reading the interview relating to the book Her Story: The Resilient Woman Lawyer’s Guide to Conquering Obstacles (ABAJournal.com, March 8). I next read “Culture Awareness,” (February-March, page 13) and found a picture depicting four men, presumably lawyers, and one woman, presumably a clerk or assistant given she is holding a clipboard. Seems like the wrong message to be sending, doesn’t it?

—Daniel Kelber

Bar talk

Regarding “New bar passage stats show several law schools below ABA cutoff” (ABAJournal.com, March 11): I am a retired college professor (organic chemistry) and took the Uniform Bar Exam twice after completing law school. The first time was only a couple of months after graduating, and my score was just a few points shy of what my state requires. When I took the exam months later, I felt I really understood the law, the questions and most of the nuances, but I got essentially the same score—actually a bit lower.

For many, maybe even most, the bar exam is an educational tool. Many people do not pass the exam on their first attempt. For those, subsequent exams are mostly random submissions one hopes will qualify them.

For multiple-time exam-takers, you will not find that their scores increase with each subsequent submission. Without the feedback that a graded exam would have—answers, and which questions were answered incorrectly—there’s really no way for an examinee to know where they stand. Even if one passes the exam, you don’t know which areas you excel in and which you may be terribly deficient in.

In my many years of teaching, I can’t imagine just returning a score to a student without anything more. If there is any interest in educating applicants and assisting them to do better, there’s probably no better way than providing the feedback that would be expected in any academic or professional setting.

The current National Conference of Bar Examiners policy makes it seem that there are tricks, and that the objective is to weed out candidates and limit the number of licensed attorneys rather than supporting those eager to meet objective standards. Tricks and secrets are best suited for magicians and not for trying to keep the number of successful candidates small. The expected new exam will not address these issues.

—Nicholas Benfaremo
South Portland, Maine

Sage advice

I had the pleasure of reading Andrea “Lee” Negroni’s “My Career Approach Could Have Killed Me” (December-January, page 18). I just wanted you to know that I copied it and sent it to my staff. Thanks for your continued contributions to our shared profession.

—Joseph Caligiuri
Columbus, Ohio

Call for compassion

I receive the weekly emailed ABA Journal. It’s good. I read it. I learn from it. And I have a complaint: You often publish suspension and disbarment decisions. By doing so, you add to the punishment—you nationally humiliate colleagues who do not deserve this type of negative attention. We the readers don’t know the full story. What’s happening in their personal lives? Are they overworked? Are they having difficulties with substance abuse?

I’ll grant some bad lawyers deserve the negative attention, even across the whole nation. But for some lawyers who go ethically astray, isn’t it enough for the public discipline be confined to their own state? I suggest some discretion and compassion.

—Elliot Pasik
Long Beach, New York

Book debate

Debra Cassens Weiss’ article “Was wrong person executed in death of Lindbergh baby? Ex-judge’s book and DNA quest raise issues” (ABAJournal.com, March 11) cites author David M. Friedman calling my prize-winning book, The Lindbergh Kidnapping: Suspect No. 1, The Man Who Got Away, “malicious garbage.” A balanced article might have cited experts who have read and endorsed it. Historian Lloyd C. Gardner, acclaimed author of The Case That Never Dies, called my book “myth-smashing … beautifully written, powerfully argued.” Library Journal called it “a meticulously researched, compelling work.” Former deputy attorney general and federal Judge D. Lowell Jensen (retired) praised it as “one of the definitive books on the Lindbergh saga.” I invite ABA subscribers to read my book and decide for themselves.

—Judge Lise Pearlman (retired)
Oakland, California

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