How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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David Giacalone

"Reform" has been long on my short list of misleading words and euphemisms. NY Governor Geo. Pataki used "reform" so many times in his state of the state address recently [http://www.state.ny.us/sos2004/04sos_media_download_before1.html], that I wanted to blahg all over my carpet.

David Giacalone

p.s. What about those guys who now call themselves Consumer Lawyers, and the UPL bar committees that are now named Consumer Protection Committees? You got to beware of just what's being consumed (it's often the dollars of real legal consumers).

And, how about all those "non-special-interests" who donate to a certain NC Senator's Presidential campaign?


David: I remember you don't like PI lawyers calling themselves "consumer lawyers." But would you object if the lawyers calling themselves "consumer lawyers" exclusively practice consumer law? I have a lot of books from the "National Consumer Law Center"--their books are great--and I know from participating a little in that organization that there are some hard-working, very genuine "consumer lawyers" around the country.

David Giacalone

[Are you setting me up for some kind of "gotcha" here?] I have no problem at all with lawyers who exclusively or primarily practice consumer law using that nomenclature. The National Consumer Law Center [http://www.consumerlaw.org/] appears to do a lot of very good work for consumers. And, I think that I can in good faith call myself a "consumer advocate".

We were talking about people or organizations that adopt a somewhat misleading buzzword or euphemism to appear more neutral or benign, less greedy, or more public-minded than they really are -- or to escape a label that has become unpopular (like "trial lawyers"). The UPL Committees are a good example.

Another example: the partners of a lawyer in NYS, who perpetrated a "debt reduction" scam on many thousands of clients, was disbarred and is under federal fraud indictment now, moved the same operation to Vermont and continued the same scam, this time under the name The Centers for Consumer Protection, rather than their own names. See, e.g., http://www.wten.com/Global/story.asp?s=%20%20956697.

Over the years, I have also come to be suspicious of any group that calls itself a "public interest" organization -- no matter if they are on the left, center or right politically. Such self-denomination always deserves to be viewed with skepticism.


Evan: Thanks for this post about Cynic Incubators, as coined in Junk English. That's exactly what is described in The Branding of Laws http://www.wordlab.com/2003_11_01_archive.cfm#106983292468432921 over at Wordlab. I wish the term Cynic Incubators had been known to me when I wrote that. Maybe it's time for a follow-up post.

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