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23 Responses

  1. Avatar Kolohe says:

    The Baltimore Orioles and John Edwards’ political career are built on such law practices.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    As a personal injury/plaintiff’s lawyer, I am not sure of why you are posting this.

    Do you think it is wrong that the plaintiff’s bar is taking up police brutality/§1983 cases*? Should they leave these to non-profit civil rights lawyers?

    The plaintiff’s bar has always taken police brutality cases. This is not new. The video evidence might be new.

    There also always seems to be a contingent of holier-than-thou lawyers in certain fields who criticize lawyers who work in the private market. Lee has mentioned that non-profit immigration lawyers often criticize and feel holier than immigration lawyers in private practice especially those that do asylum work.
    Lee is also right when he points out that the non-profit world does not have the time, money, or resources to help all immigrants seeking asylum or entry into the United States and private practice do have a role. The same is true for civil rights and police brutality cases.

    I have very little patience for the holier-than-thous of the world.

    *§1983 is the section of the United States Code that most police brutality cases are brought under.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enforcement_Act_of_1871_%28third_act%29#As_later_amended_and_codified_as_section_1983Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The big problem with the not for profit immigration lawyers is that they are entirely devoted to the Hispanic community for the most part. Other immigrant communities from Asia, Eastern Europe, or Africa are left to their own devices.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq

        I think that might be based on geography. There are certainly non-profit law centers in the Bay Area that help Asian immigrants and ask for their employees to be bilingual in an Asian language. Interestingly Vietnamese seems to be the one that gets a lot of job postings. Not so much with Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. The transactional firms need Japanese speaking lawyers.Report

      • Avatar Gaelen in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah, I have to echo Saul here. I’ve worked in Minneapolis and Louisville, and the non-profits seem to at least try and serve the immigrants in their communities.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Gaelen says:

          In the New York area, the not for profits are heavily geared to help immigrants from Latin American countries in general and the Spanish speaking ones in particular. Most other immigrants go to private lawyers or slog along on their own.Report

          • Avatar Gaelen in reply to LeeEsq says:

            That’s certainly to bad for low income non-Hispanic immigrants. Though my wife is from Washington Heights, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised there is a focus on the Hispanic population.

            If you don’t mind me asking, do you work in private practice or for a non-profit?Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think I’m on record about the justice system and lack of legal representation as being a constitutional crisis, @saul-degraw ; repeatedly. So you know I agreed with you. I presented the headline with my initial response because it presented a mini-conflict, if you will; an initial response of money grubbing; just as we’ll see much-needed suits, don’t you think we’ll see abuses; the whole tort law debate? Something in me led me to that as an initial response despite my recognition of better legal representation, particularly for police brutality and (possibly as important,) harassment. I’d go so far as to say that the other new market ought be folks caught up on clusterfuck case-entanglements, and not just brutality (as presented by the two-state conundrum Rowe recently found himself in; and he is a lawyer) is an untapped market. If you aren’t a lawyer, and you can’t afford one, that stuff eats your opportunity.

      But I can’t help wonder what made me, initially, made me read that as a ‘money grubbing’ headline.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to zic says:

        I would add that most if not all 1983 cases are going to be handled on a contingency fee and the statute allows for the collection of attorney’s fees and costs from the defendant if successful.

        So the good news is that the client pays nothing up front. The bad news is that a person might be the victim of police brutality and not find a lawyer because the lawyer is going to do a calculation about whether he or she is likely to win a trial verdict or settlement. More likely whether they can survive a motion for summary judgment.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          The bad news is that a person might be the victim of police brutality and not find a lawyer because the lawyer is going to do a calculation about whether he or she is likely to win a trial verdict or settlement. More likely whether they can survive a motion for summary judgment.

          I think that this may be the very thing that discomforted me; and it’s a good way to explain it.

          I wonder if there’s going to be some stirring the pot of relationships between cops, lawyers, and courts, too.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to zic says:

            Not really. Firms tend to represent plaintiffs or defendants, rarely both because representing one side makes it much easier to keep your Conflicts in line.

            Also there is some nice stuff granted but not major issues. More like “I will grant you an extension” in case you need an extension one day. Lawyers still fight for their clients.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to zic says:

            I wonder if there’s going to be some stirring the pot of relationships between cops, lawyers, and courts, too.

            So far as the cops and lawyers go, civil and criminal lawyers tend to be distinct groups. I wouldn’t expect a criminal defense lawyer to take on a civil police brutality case, though he might refer one out, keeping a piece of the action.

            As for police and prosecutors, any stirring of that pot is all to the good.Report

          • Avatar Francis in reply to zic says:

            I have no idea what you mean by ‘stirring the pot.’

            On a daily basis, criminal defense counsel and civil rights counsel have no contact. When defense counsel (like my wife, frex) thinks that cops have been too rough in extracting information, the response is to try to get relevant evidence excluded. It’s up to the client to decide if he has a civil case against the county.

            The best way to cut down on brutality cases is for cops to stop beating people.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          This in turn reflects on

          don’t you think we’ll see abuses; the whole tort law debate?

          A plaintiff’s lawyer working on a contingency fee basis takes a case based on an assessment of the likelihood of getting a judgment or settlement. I know a plaintiff’s lawyer who says that evaluating the value of a case is his most important skill. So when we talk about abuses, we mean a small set of cases:

          (1) The plaintiff is suing pro se, with no lawyer involved;
          (2) The plaintiff is paying the lawyer out of pocket;
          (3) The lawyer has taken the case on contingency, but has misjudged its value; or
          (4) The lawyer has correctly judged the value of the case, but the system is poorly designed, resulting in perverse incentives.

          The first three classes do occur, but aren’t he main culprits. (1) is unlikely to get past summary judgment. (2) is rare, because there aren’t that many people with both the money and the inclination to pay lawyers to pursue frivolous claims. (3) is inherently self-limiting: a lawyer either figures things out or goes out of business.

          Mostly when people talk about tort reform they mean (4), and often once you scratch beneath the surface they really are butt hurt about malefactors having to pay up. The complaint that a lawyer might get paid for his work is simply a variant of this. If only rich people can afford a lawyer, it becomes that much easier to keep the proles down.Report

          • When you reflect that the same people who want less regulation because they’d rather see the market govern health and safety issues also want tort reform to prevent it from doing so, all becomes clear.Report

            • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              The standard rationale seems to be that corporations will behave out of fear of reputation loss leading to loss of market share. The striking thing is that many of the people making this argument seem to be sincere, displaying a remarkable disconnect between the insides of their heads and objective reality.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                Richard Hershberger: The standard rationale seems to be that corporations will behave out of fear of reputation loss leading to loss of market share. The striking thing is that many of the people making this argument seem to be sincere, displaying a remarkable disconnect between the insides of their heads and objective reality.

                You mean people like Alan Greenspan?

                I couldn’t agree more. This theory has been discredited.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The National Law Journal is basically a trade journal, so it is approaching this story through a lawyer’s lens. While this might be distasteful to some people, it is necessary. Like Saul said, not for profit organizations like Legal Aid, various Domestic Violence clinics and other similar organizations can not handle all immigration, police brutality, domestic violence, or criminal defense cases cases. Lawyers doing this for the money are necessary if you want people who need lawyers to get them. In big time sexual harassment or other such cases, for profit lawyers work the best because they will have fewer clients and could devote more time and effort to fight the big boys.Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    Another hundred years or so and everyone will either be a “Utility” or a “Lawyer”, just like Litigara.

    http://farscape.wikia.com/wiki/LitigaraReport

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