Cast your vote re: ghostwriting

I’ve received the following email 3 times. It’s time for me to share!

Following an article published yesterday, titled Kansas Ethics Opinion Requires Disclosure on Ghostwritten Pleadings, the ABA Journal has created a poll on ghostwriting.  Visit the site at www.abajournal.com to cast your vote in the poll “Is Ghostwriting Legal Documents Ethical?”.

Scroll down the screen to see the poll, which is located on the right side of the home page.  We’re not sure how long the poll will be open, so be sure to vote today.

This issue is particularly relevant for those of us interested in limited scope representation.

Limited scope representation varies state by state, but generally, it allows attorneys to provide a discrete service and is considered by many to increase access to justice – due to reduced costs for legal services.

A litigant or client may pay for someone to write a letter on their behalf or write their court documents, but complete their legal representation at that point.

Ghostwriting is when the attorney writes the documents for the client. In some states, the attorney does not have to sign their name; in others, it is mandatory.

What do you think? Case your vote at www.abajournal.com.

-RFW

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Friday Wrap 5.29.09

All the week’s “atj” newsworthy items wrapped up

Friday Wrap Friday Wrap

Texas – Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation Recognize Major Contributors to Texas Legal Aid

Chicago, Illinois – ABA Invites Obama to it Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C. – 2nd ABA National Conference on Employment of Lawyers with Disabilities (Hurry for the EARLY BIRD special because after June 1st the registration increases)

United States Supreme Court – President Obama nominates Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court (For more news links, click here. For blog coverage, click here.)

Brooklyn, New York – A Call for Pro Bono at Boro Hall

Lexington, Kentucky – Interview with a True Change Agent

Nashville, Tennessee – New Legal Advice Clinic to Help with Debt Issues

Richmond, Virginia – LINC Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers

Public Justice Center – Donor Inspires Us with $10,000 Gift 

Ventura County, California – New County Program Helping Low-Income Families Adopt

 Winston-Salem, North Carolina – Practical Paralegalism: Paying it Forward

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Credit Card Reforms Could Help Statements

Fairfield, Connecticut – Hard Times Force People Into Family Court “Solo”

Honolulu, Hawaii – Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher Supports Access to Justice Commission

Australia – Pro Bono Work Good for Law Students

New York, New York – Pro Bono Recruitment Drive

San Diego, California – Law Made Public: Legal Research Class for the Self-Represented Litigant

-RFW

Latte and the Law

LATTE -n- LAW: legal assistance for middle class

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While many of the posts here have focused primarily on people living at, below or slightly above federal poverty guidelines, there are many more people unable to adequately access legal assistance or the civil court system due to prohibitive costs. And the numbers are rising.

According to a Los Angeles Times article “an estimated 60% of Americans find themselves in the gap between those poor enough to qualify for publicly funded Legal Aid and those wealthy enough to afford an uptown lawyer.”

And at storefront law offices like Santa Monica’s LegalGrind, a cafe-legal clearinghouse, those facing court dates to deal with divorce, custody matters, driving offenses and debt can find out for $45 how best to tackle their problems without plunking down a $5,000 retainer and $400 an hour for a lawyer.

One of the proffered solutions is unbundled legal services. Another is additional online resources. Yet another is more Pro Bono service.

Latte and the law – a solution for all of us?

-RFW

Unbundled/Limited Scope Rep picking up Traction

Information out of Downey, CA:

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On Friday, March 6, 2009, The Downey Patriot posted an article by Steve Lopez, an attorney licensed in California. Excerpts from the article:

With legal fees this high and unaffordable for some people it is not surprising that about 80 percent of people in California represent themselves in civil family law cases — such as divorce, custody and domestic violence cases — according to the Self-Represented Litigation Network. In San Diego alone, the number of divorce filings involving at least one person not represented by a lawyer rose from 46 percent in 1992 to 77 percent in 2000.

The result also leaves the Courts absolutely inundated with people who do not understand the procedures.

In an effort to protect people’s rights while keeping costs reasonable, unbundled or limited scope representation may offer a solution for some. Lopez addresses the need for communication, clear and direct communication between the client and the attorney.

The article is well worth reading, especially for us South Carolinians.

-RFW

SC ATJ New Year’s Wishes or Resolutions?

COUNTDOWN TO 2009

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As the New Year’s wishes and resolutions are starting to pour in, I’ve had a few moments to ponder Access to Justice resolutions for 2009. Before I lose count of the many goals for 2009, I thought I’d share a few.

12. South Carolina Access to Justice will develop a working relationship with legal paraprofessionals throughout the state.

11. Technology advances such as instant messaging, podcasts, YouTube videos, and email allow greater communication to and for people in need of low-cost legal services, especially when transportation imposes a barrier.

10. The Commission and partner organizations reach solutions to the need for interpreters for individuals who are Deaf and with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

9.  South Carolina law students, both USC School of Law and Charleston School of Law students, become engaged in access to justice and collaborate with the Commission for creative solutions.

8. South Carolina attorneys recognize the opportunity that unbundled or limited scope legal services can provide to South Carolinians with low income or of modest means, especially during this financial climate while sustaining the attorney’s practice at the same time.

7. SC Access to Justice establishes a library workgroup to assist self-represented litigants (SRLs) with access to approved, free legal forms (http://www.sccourts.org/forms/indexSelfHelp.cfm) and to establish a long-lasting partnership with libraries.

6. All South Carolinians who are unable to afford an attorney can reach one access point for all South Carolina legal service organizations.

5. Every County Courthouse will house or have access to a nearby self-help center for self-represented litigants.

4. Every county self-help center will be staffed for a minimum of 5 hours per week by pro bono attorneys.

3. Every South Carolina licensed attorney completes at least 50 hours of pro bono service as per ABA Model Rule 6.1 VOLUNTARY PRO BONO SERVICE.

2. The Second Pilot Lawyer Mentor Program incorporates the aspirational Pro Bono expectation and that it becomes a “shall” instead of a “should.”

1. That ALL South Carolinians have equal access to the law and its remedies without regard to their economic status.

Happy New Year!

-RFW