Letters-to-the-editor, July 1, 2002

first_imgI think that Tod Aronovitz will make a wonderful Bar president, but I disagree with his voluntary plea for money in order to polish up the image of Florida lawyers. Our loss of status, as well as any one-sided perception of lawyers, has its genesis in a lack of civility and respect in our dealings with each other. Clients come to depositions and see us at our worst. Jurors see lawyers put on a display in a courtroom that is often designed for anything but to lead to the truth.Of course, I am not speaking of all lawyers or even the majority of lawyers in Florida. I am addressing the fact that lawyers need to improve on their substance rather than figure out how to create a better image. The better image will come with a better substance, and for this we do not need to contribute $45. We simply need to resolve among ourselves that we will treat each other as professionals in a common cause with a noble purpose. Once this is understood and practiced, then the image will follow the substance and the “whole story” will be laid bare for all to see. Howard J. Hollander Miami As chair of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education for the coming year, I want the membership to know the board will support the Dignity in Law campaign.The board in recent years has been emphasizing not only the usual certification standards of experience and expertise in an area of law, but also the manner in which the practitioner holds himself or herself out to their colleagues and the public they serve.The Board of Legal Specialization and Education stands ready to assist President Tod Aronovitz’ efforts this coming year. L. Norman Vaughan-Birch Sarasota Letters-to-the-editor, July 1, 2002 If the “Dignity in Law” program is truly to “use the same new communications techniques that large corporations use to manage business reputations,” as President Tod Aronovitz explains in his ad in the June 1 News, then he ought to consider one of the more important aspects of corporate communications “techniques.” That is, not everyone in the corporation maintains his or her own media outlet.While Mr. Aronovitz may use some polished technique in his attempt to convince the public lawyers are “good,” most people still will see the full-page ads in the telephone book, the 30-second TV spots, and the unsightly billboards pleading with people to “come on in and sue someone.”It is that kind of communication which creates the image of the lawyer, and I think Mr. Aronovitz’s efforts will be seen as an attempt to simply pretty up the ads by tying a bow around them.A more fundamental question is, why do we worry so much about our perception of the public’s image of lawyers? Whatever it is Mr. Aronovitz is concerned about has not affected me either financially or emotionally. There will always be those who complain about lawyers, just as there are those who complain about car dealers, doctors, and bureaucrats. My recollection is that distaste for lawyers goes back at least as far as Shakespeare.Of course, the entire question may soon become moot. Given the rate of growth of The Florida Bar, we’ll soon outnumber everybody else, and then there really will be no reason to be concerned about our image. Howard C. Batt Clearwater I saw the full-page promotional piece for The Florida Bar’s “Dignity in Law” campaign encouraging lawyers to donate $45 in their fee statement, for what I understand to be a public relations or public awareness campaign aimed at improving our image. Has it really come to this? We need a spin doctor?Instead of changing the perception of lawyers, why not change the reality? Surely the reputation of the Bar would be better served if we all contributed $45 to a local charity, of which there are hundreds if not thousands. One small act of altruism that affects the life of one Florida citizen is far more meaningful than a marketing campaign. The smallest act of altruism is more heartfelt than any broadcast message.If you want to change the perception, prosecute more unethical attorneys and more carefully screen law students based on character not SATs. David W. Henry Orlando July 1, 2002 Regular News Dignity in Law Congratulations are due Bar President Tod Aronovitz on his leadership in spearheading the much-needed awareness campaign, Dignity in Law.As the incoming president of the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida — consisting of all active and retired county court judges throughout Florida — one of my goals is to enlist more judges to serve on our Public Education on the Court Teams (PECTS) and educate the public on the role and function of our courts. We, too, are disappointed in the public’s perception that we are “Judge Judy” or one of the many tyrant judges portrayed on the movie screen. I would like to offer our support, involvement, and partnership in this campaign. Judge Beth Bloom Miami The Florida Bar continues to make a concerted and diligent effort to improve the reputation of the legal profession. Yet so much negativity exists in so many corners that institutional efforts alone cannot accomplish the goal of having the public properly perceive the truth about lawyers and the legal profession.There is no panacea or “magic bullet” to restore so much tarnish which has been heaped on the legal profession, especially since the Watergate political scandal which destroyed the reputations and careers of many prominent attorneys in the 1970s. However, I want to make a proposal which will increase the base of help to The Florida Bar in its remedial efforts to improve the image of the legal profession.Specifically, I suggest that The Florida Bar appoint all of its 75,000 plus members in and out of Florida as goodwill public relations ambassadors for the legal profession.The members will be charged with the responsibility to respond to any unjustified, derogatory comments about or criticisms pertaining to lawyers or the legal profession that are seen or heard, and to make a written response to same with a copy to The Florida Bar.In my experience, a reasonable letter from a responsible person usually has substantial impact on the recipient and especially institutional media entities or their advertisers or others concerned about criticism from members of the public. copying the Bar with the letters, the Bar can keep track of and, where appropriate, add its voice to the Bar member’s letter. I believe the effect of such an “Army of Correspondence” will be to dampen the enthusiasm of the legal profession’s worst critics and silence those whose criticism is unfounded.The purpose is not to prevent jest or humor which may poke good-natured fun at the legal profession. Many judges and lawyers make speeches containing jokes or anecdotes which kid or chide the legal profession. The legal profession will continue to be the butt of jokes. However, nasty, ill-tempered, and unjustified remarks are cloths of a different texture.Once this program is implemented, a column in The Florida Bar News could be utilized to report on the remarks and responses to apprise and inspire Bar members to participate in the legal profession’s challenge to unjustified attacks against it. Richard N. Friedman Miami What’s in a Name? This is an open letter to the Bar members in general seeking their advice. I am thinking of forming a solo practice, and, having read the recent articles about insurance company attorneys being able to use fictitious firm names, I thought it only fair that I, as a plaintiffs’ attorney, be given the same privilege.So, I thought of this letter to the editor as a quick survey. What do you think of the following possible firm names?• State Farm Insurance Suers, PA• Allstate Attorneys Group, PA• Nationwide Plaintiffs Firm, LLC• John Hancock, PA• GEICO and Associates• (to be “PC:”) LADYCO and Associates• Independent Insurance Pursuers, et al.• Progressive Plaintiffs Lawyers Group, LLCI mean, fair is fair, right? Ross M. Goodman Pensacola Bar Books The Bar’s new book publisher, Lexis, recently sent me a handsomely bound book of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases (“FSJICC”). This fine piece of. . . work is perfect for leisurely contemplating the finer points of criminal jury instructions in the privacy of my library. That’s how a criminal trial attorney would use a book containing the FSJICC, right? Leisurely reading and contemplating?Meanwhile, back at reality, practitioners may fondly remember the FSJICC in a three-ringed, logically formatted, tabbed binder as the standard, trusted tool that all criminal trial lawyers, prosecutors, and trial judges formerly used in “charge conferences” in all criminal trials. If “The Book” and the Lexis contract is the work of a committee, then someone from that committee should be sentenced to use “The Book” in a real criminal trial, and then explain to the rest of us how a poorly organized book lacking substantive instructions, tabs or quick reference devices, and a logical format can be easily used and trusted to help make split-second decisions under pressure on rapidly evolving trial issues affecting a citizen’s liberty (those who think jury instructions are always worked out and printed up in advance must have been on “The Book” committee). But, hey, another new book each year can’t be bad for Lexis (i.e., subsidiary of West Publishing: the owner of all law and related materials and now The Florida Bar), for the Bar and for the troops, right? (Maybe we can fumble with pocket supplements?) Yet, my independent and quite official survey would report that no criminal trial attorney, prosecutor, or judge asked can believe that the Bar has replaced a familiar and trusted trial tool with something so stupidly designed, ill-conceived, and dysfunctional as “The Book.” Solution? Simple. Update and reissue the FSJICC in the three-ring, indexed format immediately, like your mother’s liberty depended on it. And, in the future, before tinkering with remarkably reliable things that really work well in real life, discuss your ideas with real trial judges and real trial lawyers who really use them, before fixing something that is “not broke.” Michael R. Rollo Pensacola The Florida Bar is the publisher of Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases. Lexis Publishing Company prints and distributes the book for the Bar. The redesign of the book was at the direction of the Supreme Court’s Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases. A CD-ROM containing the full contents of the book along with the full opinions cited in the book has been added. The CD-ROM can help lawyers and judges prepare instructions both before and during trial. Its contents can be searched easily, and instructions can be copied to a new document and amended as needed. Gerry Rose CLE Publications The Florida Bar Contingency Fees While visiting my doctor’s office recently, I received a statement and the form of petition to amend the Florida Constitution, Article I, section 21, to place a limit on the recovery of non-economic damages. The statement said, “A serious health care crisis is facing our community. A runaway tort system and skyrocketing jury awards are driving medical professional liability costs out of sight. The average medical mal-practice award has more than doubled in recent years…,” is undoubtedly true, and I support the doctor’s criticism of the U.S. court system which continues to reflect the influence of the large percentage of its lawyers who designate themselves unabashedly as “trial lawyers” whose God-given duty it is to regulate, punish, and prescribe professional standards for the medical profession, as well as every other conceivable human activity except their own.The widespread use of contingent percentage fees which invest lawyers with a direct and crucial personal financial stake in civil damage claims tried largely by lay juries is the main source of the exploitation of the court system for the aggrandizement of trial lawyers.Although Bar Rule 4-1.5, clearly prohibits excessive fees, and enacts three pages of rules in fine print, the net public result as far as the public is concerned is the payment and receipt of fees running into the millions, and in the “tobacco cases” even into the billions of dollars. The recipients of these fees, the “trial lawyers” continue to advertise themselves as public servants, guardians of the public weal, and contributors to charity, the latter being reminiscent of the “sale of indulgences” by priests buying themselves and others into heaven.Trial lawyers are also the principal advertisers, and television does not present an accurate view of the legal profession.The glory of the U.S. jury system is supposed to be the placing of the administration of justice into the hands of the common people, but the actual trial utilizes lay citizens deliberately selected without any regard whatever for any expertise or academic or other competence, while at the same time extolling the expertise and upper-class intellect-ual and social status of the trial lawyers, and without the jurors having any say or knowledge whatsoever as to the size or propriety of the attorney’s fees, or of the effect of the fees on the parties in the case.This is ridiculous nonsense, certainly not contemplated in the English Common Law, or its courts, or its barristers, who originated this trial court system and operated it for 700 years, 500 of those years before the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, by the Founding Fathers, who were nearly all trained in the English Common Law, which, at that time, prohibited any barrister from charging anyone a cont-ingent fee, prohibited advertising in any form, and prohibited any barrister from forming a partnership with any other barrister. Even today barristers may not charge a percentage fee, but a reasonable fee may be contingent upon the outcome of the case in British courts.My only criticism of the proposed amendment is that it should not be confined to redressing the grievances of the medical profession, but should be made applicable to all civil damage actions except those for intentional torts, in which attorneys’ fees should also be disclosed and limited, as in all cases. John R. Williams West Palm Beachlast_img read more

Friday people roundup [updated]

first_imgKempen – Gerard Roelofs is to join Kempen Capital Management as director of client solutions as of 30 January. He is to succeed Jan Bertus Molenkamp, Kempen’s director of fiduciary management. As part of Kempen’s management team, he is to focus on extending the asset manager’s international proposition, including fiduciary management. Previously, Roelofs was on the management team of NN Investment Partners and head of European investment at consultancy Towers Watson. Prior to this, he was managing partner for the Netherlands at Watson Wyatt, as well as country head for the Benelux region at Deutsche Asset Management.Global Impact Investing Network – Ashley Elliot has been appointed global liaison for East Africa. GIIN cited Elliot’s longstanding commitment to impact investing and deep knowledge of the region. In addition to his work with the GIIN, he is a managing partner at research and strategy firm Sofala Partners.International Accounting Standards Board – Prof Tom Scott, a Canadian academic, is to become a member of the IASB. He will join the organisation in April for an initial five-year term. Scott has been an academic in the field of accounting at various universities in Canada since the late 1970s. Most recently, he acted as a director and Prof of Accounting at the School of Accounting and Finance, University of Waterloo.Financial Reporting Council – Phil Fitz-Gerald has been appointed as director of the Financial Reporting Lab, which aims to bring together companies and investors to support improvement and innovation in reporting. Fitz-Gerald has been at the FRC since 2009. The FRC has also appointed Jennifer Sisson as senior investor engagement manager. She will join on 27 March from PwC, where she held a similar position. PFA Pension, Industriens Pension, Nordea, Appolaris, Horeca & Catering, Kempen Capital Management, NN Investment Partners, Global Impact Investing Network, International Accounting Standards Board, Financial Reporting Council, PwCPFA Pension – Kristian Lund Pedersen has been appointed as head of press at Denmark’s PFA Pension and is leaving his job as head of press at Industriens Pension. He will be replaced by at Industriens by Laurits Harmer Lassen, who is joining the labour-market pension scheme from his role as senior press officer at Nordea. Harmer Lassen has worked at Nordea since May 2015 and before that spent 12 years as a business journalist for several national media outlets including Berlingske Business. He will start his new job on 1 February.Appolaris – Danny van Wijk has started as manager of external managers at Appolaris, the administration provider for the €2.5bn pension fund for pharmacy workers in the Netherlands. He joins from Horeca & Catering, the €7.7bn sector scheme for the hospitality industry, where he has been investment manager in 2016. Prior to this, Van Wijk was senior investment consultant for fiduciary advice at the €200bn asset manager PGGM, senior portfolio manager at Univest Company and fund manager for private equity and European equities at the €114bn asset manager MN.Profond – Laurent Schlaefi is the new head of benefits at the CHF6.1bn (€5.7bn) Swiss multi-employer pension scheme as of the beginning of this month, replacing Martin Baltiswiler. He will jointly manage the scheme with CIO Christina Böck, who was appointed to the new role in May last year. Schlaefi has spent his entire career in the insurance industry, having held positions at Winterthur Versicherungen, AXA Winterthur, Zurich Insurance Group and others. Baltiswiler left Profond at the end of 2016.last_img read more