RE: A Battle for Our Future, September 2017, p. 496 State Bar President Tom Vick accurately laments that “[o]ur legal system is under siege. Respect for our courts and our justice system is at an all-time low[.]” President Vick places the blame for that siege at the feet of the population at large, who feel underserved by the legal system, and at the feet of public officials who show little regard for the rule of law. I submit that there is a third group who share much of the blame for the erosion of respect for our legal system: attorneys within the system. In my career, particularly in recent years, there has been a noticeable coarsening of relationships among attorneys. I harbor no romantic delusions of idyllic good old days. There have always been those in the profession who place the selfish ideals of “me,” “myself,” and “I” above “honor,” “ethics,” and “respect.” Sadly, the number of selfish idealists and the frequency of unseemly tactics is growing. Those forces take many forms, from the filing of blatantly frivolous motions with no basis in law or fact to flagrant displays of hostility and contempt for opposing counsel, courts, and laypeople. There are countless explanations for the erosion of respect in our legal system and in society at large. Boosting the esteem of the legal profession is a noble pursuit. But before we ask others to respect us, we must first respect ourselves. PATRICK M. WILSON Waxahachie RE: The Judge’s Daughter: Old School Lawyers, September 2017, p. 570 This started with Mr. Forsythe’s statement to you: “you are going to be the kind of lawyer who truly cares about folks.” I knew I was different when I went to college at the age of 37 and moved three times in order to get my degrees in political science and law. I was 44 when I hung out my shingle because no one would hire a 44-year-old woman entry-level lawyer. My first case was to collect overdue child support for a young mother whose ex-husband owed her $5,000. It was a challenge because he was a bus driver and no one had been able to have him served by the constable. But I loved a challenge. I found out what route he was driving and told the constable’s office to serve him on his bus, and he did. Next is the really interesting part. I asked my client what she was going to do with this windfall, and she didn’t know because she never really believed she would get it but she did. During the time I knew her I learned that she lived in a little house purchased with a contract for deed. This was a way poor people could buy a house paying out the cost but not getting any equity in the property. I told her if she lost her job and missed the payments, the landlord could take the house back. People with no down payments purchased houses this way and lost them this way. I called the owner and asked how much my client owed on her house and he said he wouldn’t tell me. I told him he should have his lawyer call me as soon as possible. I guess I scared him because someone called the next day and told me that there was a balance due of $9,000. Well, my client’s sister worked in a bank and got a loan of $4,000. We paid off the whole amount and my lady got a deed. But that is not the whole story. When I told my colleagues what I had done they scoffed at me and told me I was not hired to do what I did and why did I care about my client’s life anyway. I was surprised at their insensibility, and then learned that there is more than one way to practice law. That’s when I decided I was suited for family law and that is what I did for 20 years. FLORENCE M. KUSNETZ Houston Tell us what you think via @statebaroftexas, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 12487, Austin, TX 78711-2487. Letters addressed to the Texas Bar Journal may be edited for clarity and length and become the property of the magazine, which owns all rights to their use.
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