Monday, June 26, 2006

INTERESTING LEGAL STUFF

I keep up with items of interest from the legal world from time to time.

First of all, here's a link to Tom the Temp's blog which posts a Cameron Stracher article written up in the Wall Street Journal. The jist of it is: want to keep your options open? Don't go to law school. That article basically gives a really negative view about the value of a law degree in general and how the degree doesn't open any doors and so on. He talked about how people keep on telling kids that a law degree will keep your options open, when in fact it drives a lot of people into debt.

A lot of people read that article and really disliked it for some reason, even though he's right. I guess a lot of them feel pretty worthless about their law career prospects already so they're not too happy with Stracher telling people law isn't worth it.

Stracher suggests that many of the people who went into law actually want careers in screenwriting or entertainment or TV. I think this article rubbed people the wrong way precisely for this reason, for suggesting that many of the people in law school aren't serious about becoming lawyers. That couldn't be further from the truth. I think most law school graduates intended to be lawyers but were unable to find what they really wanted, or they found the work very tedious. The sad truth is it's very difficult in that field to get ahead. Stracher is very true when he says there's the elite lawyers and everyone else, the serfs, who end up quitting or getting fired.

MERCHANT GETS BOOK THROWN AT HIM

Read in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix about Saskatchewan lawyer Tony Merchant. Hoo boy, it turns out he misused trust account money in a divorce case, and got suspended for two weeks! He also got reprimanded for sending out a bunch of letters with attached retainer agreements to a bunch of people in Estevan that he was hoping to land as clients in a class action lawsuit against Canadian Pacific Railway for a 2004 derailment; he made it seem as if they wouldn't be hit with costs if they signed on the dotted line. Thirteen Estevan lawyers complained about it, though I'm cynical about their motives. They were probably jealous that Merchant was trying to steal their potential clients. Anyway, that's his fifth and sixth convictions and he's appealing them to the Court of Appeal. But he isn't disbarred.

If I can describe Merchant and his firm this way: you know all those ads on TV out of Buffalo and Rochester for The Barnes Firm? That's that personal-injury law firm in upstate New York that recently had the book thrown at it for various violations, leading to one of the name partners being suspended. But they advertise like mad, everyone knows who they are. Anyway, Merchant Law Group is the Saskatchewan version of The Barnes Firm. Tony is basically an American-style lawyer in a place not used to American-style lawyers. He's apparently filthy rich from all his class-action and divorce-case victories, but all he does is work all the time from what I hear and he's been in trouble with the provincial Bar so many times that it is a joke. It's fair to say Tony has a lot of enemies in the legal profession in Saskatchewan who do not like his style, but then the legal profession there is pretty much a country club anyway. It really is a clique.

I should also point out that Tony Merchant is also, ahem, one of the biggest Liberals in the province of Saskatchewan, so I'm sure all the Blogging Tories will be happy to hear that, they can go ahead and trash him in print. That's that for that.

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