Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Member Of The Club

The controversy generated by the District of Columbia Bar's attack on Avvo continues. Carolyn Elefant has questioned whether her mandatory bar dues should be spent pursuing litigation that she opposes. An Avvo -related web page has posted the following threatening letter from the Bar's counsel. I wonder, as did Carolyn, whether the Bar should be trying to shut down the flow of accurate and publicly-available information and whether my dues should fund that effort.

I have been a dues-paying member of this Bar for 34 years and was a bar employee for over 17 years. It has been my experience that the Bar is run by and for the insiders (consisting of the large firms who wish to share in the leadership and the entrenched Bar executives).  If you do not subscribe to the views of and show fealty toward the leadership, you simply do not exist. Any of my attempts to bring an issue or an injustice to the Bar's attention (such as the forced removal of a member of the Board on Professional Responsibility for the crime of focusing on the public interest) have met with stony indifference at best and "how dare you" at worst.

I remain a member because I must but am constantly reminded of the wit and wisdom of Groucho Marx.

See this related post from Simple Justice. (Mike Frisch)

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Thank you for this post. Your comments ring true. I have wanted to do more to change the bar and twice, I have tried to run for office, once for Secretary and once for the Board of Governors. Unfortunately, in order to even run for a seat for the DC Bar, you need to be nominated by the Board of Governors, and I was not, despite the fact that I've served on two steering committees, organized and/or spoken at 7 brown bag bar lunches and am a nationally recognized blogger and author. After my nomination was rejected last year, I contacted the bar and was told that I could run if I put together a petition with 100 signatures - email would not suffice, they had to be actual signatures. And I had 4-5 days to do it. I could have gotten 100 email signatures, but there was really no feasible way for me to get in touch with 100 other lawyers in that short period of time to get a petition signed. Thus, the Bar's system is self-perpetuating. And what is most annoying is that because it is a mandatory bar, I have no option if I want to keep my license.

Posted by: Carolyn Elefant | Feb 18, 2009 8:54:01 PM

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