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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Maintain, I didn't say anything about notarios. Soy de Los Angeles, so I am certainly familiar with them. I was more shocked that the poster was alleging that attorneys were violating their professional responsibilities by advocating for immigrants.


Advocating for an immigrant, even an illegal immigrant, is not in itself a violation of any professional duty.


Your argument is that by assisting the illegal immigrant in becoming legal, the lawyer is furthering the illegal activity? I see the logic, but no. And this isn't just an issue of politics or political correctness.

Lawyers are permitted to assist clients who are currently afoul of the law but wish to become compliant. Think of a client walking into a tax lawyer's office and saying "I haven't paid income tax in five years, but I want to get right with the IRS and avoid jail." As long as the lawyer does not assist the tax fugitive in hiding assets, or setting up offshore accounts, or producing fake returns, he can assist the client in clearing up his legal problems with the IRS.

So, if an immigration lawyer tells an immigrant to claim political asylum when he knows it's a bogus claim, or tells the client to lie about how long he's been in the country to take advantage of an amnesty, or whatever, then he's breached his ethical duties. But not just by representing and advocating zealously on behalf of the client.

Going completely afield of the original topic, IIRC, isn't it it the case that there is a difference between the function of an American notary and notaries in (some) other countries? For example, I believe that certain European notaries have what some of us would view as quasi-lawyer abilities.

Might that be the case with "true" Mexican (in Mexico) notaries, thus causing some confusion?

Yes, definitely. Notarios are common in Latin America and usually have some degree of training or certification. They have very clear roles, and can only perform certain tasks. How well this is regulated varies according to the country.

The problem in the U.S. is that many people calling themselves "notarios" and running storefront offices have zero training in American law. I believe Calbar was looking into some sort of training or regulatory action, but I don't know what came of it.

I doubt if they're breaching the rules of conduct, as long as they aren't knowingly filing false claims of asylum/political asylum (which, no doubt, some do), etc. Illegal immigration is indeed a political as well as legal issue, however, and is fraught with difficulties and competing interests.

Not sure those lawyers are advocating anyone break the law either or what exactly this supposed epidemic of illegal legal advice is.

If you mean the notarios issue, it is a genuine problem in CA. Notarios operate almost exclusively within the immigrant community and act as quasi-lawyers. They often have no legal training, and advise people on a broad range of subjects, not just immigration. They stand in the hallways outside the courtroom huddling with clients and telling them what to do. The advice is often bad, and the client has no recourse since the notario is unlicensed and uninsured, and can disappear into the woodwork.

Calbar was looking into this about a year ago and put up a warning on their website in Spanish telling people how to distinguish between lawyers and notarios.   

Sorry, I meant "notarios" not notaries. Notaries are fine.

To some (limited) extent, this already goes on. There are "document preparation" services which facilitate stuff like no-contest divorces.

I have mixed feelings on this one. Although I agree that there are simple legal issues which you probably don't need a JD to handle, someone who is not a lawyer might also miss important issues embedded within the seemingly "simple" issue. This could result in an involuntary waiver of otherwise legitimate claims, that sort of thing. So even then, I think there would have to be some sort of licensing or certification.

In CA we have a problem with "notaries" which the state bar has been trying to address. They are common in Latin America, but have a bad reputation here for engaging in UPL. Helping to fill out a form is one thing, but giving bad legal advice is another. Again,  think there would have to be some way to monitor such services.

I have heard this proposal floated by various libertarians. It would involve some combination of the following-
-Anyone can practice law. No restrictions. No UPL charges.
-Changing the various rules and statutes that privilege attorneys.
-People that want to learn what they are doing can go to school, etc. There could be voluntary organizations (such as the ABA) that an attorney could apply to, or take an exam with, and then advertise. "I'm ABA-certified!"
-Use the tort system (malpractice) to enforce standards.

This is the problem I have with ideologically based solutions. They aren't practical. The average person has no clue what ABA certification is, and it would be ridiculously long and expensive to let the tort system take care of it. A much easier solution is just require an exam!

Pie, I almost can't believe that ANY lawyer would actually disagree with the notion of requiring a comprehensive exam to get a license to practice law. We can agree that the bar exam could be better administered and needs a make over, but no exam at all? Seriously?

Do you think that everyone you went to law school with was competent to practice law as soon as they graduated? Definitely not the case in my experience.

If you don't like the FAA example (which does require both written and cockpit tests, BTW), then how about CPAs or real estate brokers? Do you think they should be allowed to do people's taxes and transfer property based on nothing more than their degree?

Historically, the bar exam is a much more crucial part of the licensing scheme than the JD. Abraham Lincoln didn't even have to attend law school, but he still had to pass the Illinois bar. The public has a right to know that licensed attorneys are at least minimally competent.

As to your point about lawyers not having that much power, I wholeheartedly disagree. A lawyer can ruin someone's life, cost them millions, or cost them their freedom. The potential impact is far greater than many other professions which require a licensing exam.

Instead of making the exam easier maybe they should have just offered it three times a year instead of two, and with a quicker turnaround on grading.

I know people who had to take it more than once, and they eventually passed. What really hurt them was taking the bar in July and having to wait until November to see if they passed, then scrambling to sign up and prepare for the Feb bar of they didn't. It was financially very difficult for some people.

Politics and Law-Related News / Re: POTUS
« on: August 18, 2015, 05:08:05 PM »
I don't think the FBI is actually investigating her, per se. They're looking in to the security of the State Depts overall systems.

Nonetheless, it contributes to a general feeling of discontent and mistrust among many Democrats which could eventually hurt her. It depends on many variables.

At this point, there is no reason to believe Sanders will win Iowa. New Hampshire yes, but not Iowa. Long term, I don't think Sanders is a serious threat to Clinton's ability to obtain the nomination. The excitement over Sanders does, however, indicate that many Democrats are happy that there's an alternative to Clinton. Maybe that means lower voter turnout next November, maybe not.

The only serious threat she might face is if Biden jumps in. Chaffee and O'Malley no threat at all, but Biden has a good rep among most Democrats. He's far more likeable. 

Even if the exam has a high pass rate, it's useful if it keeps out the 10-20% who probably shouldn't have been admitted to law school in the first place. Law schools themselves are willing to admit just about anybody at this point, and will graduate them with minimally passing grades. Thus, the bar exam is serving an important gatekeeper function. Not everyone who manages to graduate from law school can automatically be entrusted to handle the public's legal needs.

Do you think a pilot should be able to fly commercially without taking the FAA checkrides as long as they graduate from flight school?

I do believe that there are plenty of modifications that could be made to both the bar exam and law school curricula which would result in better legal training. I'm all for that.

I agree that non ABA should have to sit it, but other than that. Meh.

Interestingly, I think the primary result of such a rule would be that the average non-ABA student would be more knowledgeable on bar topics than the average ABA grad. I don't know about you, but if I didn't have to take the bar, I wouldn't have bothered with learning 90% of that stuff. But I'm glad I did.

Honestly, I think only non ABA grads should have to take it. Wisconsin has the right idea.

I completely disagree.

Not everyone who manages to scrape by and earn their JD is fit to practice law. The bar exam serves as a weeding out process for those few who really should not be entrusted with handling the public's legal needs.

California has a notoriously difficult bar, but what about states with a 80-90% pass rate? If you can't pass an exam that 80-90% of your classmates passed, should you really be allowed to give legal advice?

How many lawyers actually orally argue cases in front of a judge, though?

It just depends on what you're practicing.

As Loki pointed out, civil transaction attorneys may never see the inside of a courtroom. But PDs, DAs, juvenile dependency lawyers, family lawyers, etc., are in court all the time. I worked at a fairly large city attorney's office during law school, and on any given day it seemed like half the office was in court for some or another hearing. As Citylaw stated, this may be a California thing.

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