5/19/14

The Depths T'Which Ethics Reaches: or, The Origin of Opinion 642

Inspired by recent events.


Dewey said to Cheatum, "What ever shall we do?
Our book is getting slimmer and I haven't got a clue
How to run a proper business, you know, one that still makes money?
We can't just raise our rates... stop your laughing. It's not funny!"

"Silly Dewey, how you worry!" chortled Cheatum through his drink.
"There's no problem we can't tackle with a good and proper think.
We're the brightest and the smartest and by far the best paid too,
We'll just put our heads together and we'll figure what to do."

From across the polished table Old Man Howe rose to his feet.
Which caught them by surprise, as he never left his seat.
This they knew was bound to be one of his classic epic speeches.
Howe began with, "Don't ya know the depths t'which ethics reaches?"

Dewey stared into his glass and Cheatum smiled broadly.
"One tool my friends will always save the righteous and the godly!"
Howe barked his words with fervor and a bit of indignation,
"There's no problem can't be solved with just a tiny publication.

Let me see here, what's the trouble causin' you boys such distressin'?
You're belly achin' and wallerin'! It's downright darn depressin'!"
"You see, sir," started Cheatum, in his smarmy weasel voice,
"There's all these people coming by to tell us we've no choice

But to change the way we've done things since time immemorial,
And frankly, sir, some of them's becoming dictatorial.
How dare these non-attorneys tell us how to run our firms!?
Since when do JD Yale-ies take advice from State School worms!?"

"On the other hand," said Dewey, "There might be something to it.
The world is clearly changing and maybe we should do it...
Change... I mean," choked Dewey as Howe's gaze began to burn
With the fire of holy terror at his colleague's faithless turn.

"Noooooo!" roared Howe, "Cheatum's got the right idea!
No non-attorney's ever gonna call the shots 'round he-yah!"
Some staff began to cower and back away from all the clamor.
This attorney wields his ethics, like a carpenter, a hammer.

"I'll tell you what we'll do, to keep the riff-raff in their place.
Just change a little rule, and then we'll throw it in their face!
We'll say WE can't be trusted not to cheat our own clients
As long as non-attorney staff oversee our non-compliance!"

With a gasp and sickening thud Old Man Howe collapsed and died.
Cheatum quickly grabbed his wallet; Dewey shook his head and sighed.
Before the body was even cold they'd divvied up his clients.
Dewey got the big ones, but Cheatum took the giants.

That very day they wrote the rule that Howe had recommended.
Though sometimes even good ideas have pieces unintended.
Their non-attorney staffers all packed up and walked away.
Leaving Dewey alone with Cheatum to await their dying day.


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3 comments:

Heather said...

Oh, the places we will go ...

Great post. This ruling is asinine. When I first heard about it on Friday my first thoughts were, "Let's just keep legal professionals barefoot and making photo copies."

And it's not just titles, but how firms compensate. We're not talking about small businesses, but companies (law firms) that are bringing in tens of million, if not a few billion, dollars a year in revenue.

Not attracting the best business professionals to run the business side of the business is, to me, the unethical practice, and what will damage clients the most.

I wrote about it on my blog, www.legalwatercoolerblog.com: "Dammit. We’re a BUSINESS, Texas Center for Legal Ethics, not just a profession."

Deborah McMurray said...

I am so glad to finally know the origin of this out-of-touch Texas ruling. As a 30-year non-lawyer veteran in the legal industry, I have devoted my career/my life to making law firms better places for clients and their lawyers to do business. It's tragic to think that a few uninformed people in a room have the ability to eliminate the professional career opportunities - and law firm infrastructure and business improvements - in one fell swoop.

Anonymous said...

Uh, you might want to know that Opinion 642 is simply published on the website of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics--as are all Opinions by the Texas Supreme Court's Professional Ethics Committee. In other words, you are shooting at the wrong target by claiming that the Center issued the Opinion. A bit like claiming that the New York Times, by publishing a news story about a U.S. Supreme Court opinion, actually issued the opinion. Your might want to fix your headline.

 

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