RE:  Crime and Punishment at the Oregon State Bar



The Bar has an insatiable interest in punishing.  My record speaks for itself.  From 1973 to 2001 I was discipline free.  Almost thirty years!  Somehow, according to Jeff Sapiro, my ethics made a paradigm shift in 2001 because, subsequently, THE BAR filed eight (8) ethical complaints against me.

I am sure it had nothing to do with the 2001 complaint I filed against Mr. Sapiro for a year delay in investigating a client’s pique at my fee bill.  And nothing to do with my being an Oregon State Bar Board of Governors whistleblower on a new (white elephant) building they wanted to buy among other things.


I am a Vietnam Era Veteran.  Many veterans are committing suicide for far less than what THE BAR has done to me;———-taken away my right to earn a living.  And my reputation.


I Have Read the 2015 Oregon Disciplinary ‘REPORT’ by the American Bar Association and Am Fully Advised in These Premises

We all know the gauntlet one endures to be anointed to The Bar.  Those that so endure are to be treasured.  They didn’t do it for fun and most don’t even do it for the money.  They do it because they love the law.

A Page of History

Returning to Oregon in 1987, I had been a lawyer for fourteen (14) years, involved in complex commercial litigation across the entire United States with nary a disciplinary issue. Reading the Oregon advance sheets in 1987, I was aghast to read about a lawyer being disciplined.  The issue was whether or not his minor traffic violation involved ‘moral turpitude’ and concomitant ethical problems for him as a lawyer.  Really??


We need a whole new approach to lawyer discipline.  Rehabilitation rather than punishment.  Take the lawyer trust account overdraft problem.  Now our banks are our snitch.  Who among us has not been financially short from time to time?

Instead of discipline a lawyer in financial trouble needs a friend not sanctions.  Let’s create a lawyer credit union or a line-of-credit for lawyers in such emergencies.  You may not have noticed that THE BAR has a large network of what they call “Leadership” bank affiliations who want a piece of The Bar’s IOLTA cache.

Lawyers seldom dare to intentionally infringe on their client’s money.

Our problem is we treat all lawyers like children in all venues.  Judges talk down to you from on high.  The bigger the judge the more they do it.  There are three ways to talk to someone:  Adult to adult, Adult to child, and Child to child.  Judges and The Bar typically use the Adult to Children demeanor.

The Bar’s whole approach to lawyer discipline is ‘Adult-to-child’.  If we put the same effort into a united approach to help the client rather than using all that energy to discipline lawyers we all would gain much in the long run.  That was the original aim of the CAO concept.

‘Client’ Assistance Office (CAO)

The enlightened original concept was to have a “Consumer” Assistance Office.  Rather than trade letters back and forth a’ la’ the Jeff Sapiro approach; thoughtful lawyers were recommending triage.  If there was a problem, let’s put our heads together to see how to help the ‘consumer’ whether client, lawyer or member of the public.  The Bar spends almost three (3) million dollars per year on a bloated Disciplinary office AND a bloated CAO office to find ways to punish good hearted, and perhaps wayward lawyers.  The original idea was to reduce these costs of doing business and help the public in need of legal help when the Task Force of 2002 was putting their heads together.   Instead we have grown these offices, without the recommended improvements like mediation which has gone the way of the horse and buggy in Oregon.  It is called talking to each other.

How can we justify what we did to Ellis and Rosenbaum?  That scenario is a perfect example of all that is wrong with lawyer discipline in Oregon.   It is time for a complete purging of what we are doing now and a reorientation to work together to rehabilitate those in need of it and to help them change for the good of our profession.  And for the good of the public.

Punishment does not help anyone.  The harsh reality is that some people in our profession really don’t like lawyers.  Curious.  We have way too many hammers looking for real or imagined nails.  Let’s work together on this……..or at least talk!  And yes, I am ‘disgruntled’.   But you could have also mentioned that I was on the OSB Board of Governors, an Oregon State Bar House of Delegates member for years, a pro bono mediator for Washington County Circuit Court for ten years, President of the Washington County Bar Association and I was sometimes kind to my mother.   Finally, I am a U. S. Army veteran with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Let us help lawyers and consumers with legal problems not cause them.


Addendum:  At their 2013 Oregon State Bar meeting the following occurred:

Consider a request by the Board of Governors (BoG) to help draft a rule that would require judges to take a certain number of CLe credits in judicial temperament. the Committee heard from Sylvia Stevens regarding the reasoning behind the request. the Committee inquired about what other states require, and learned that no other state had a similar requirement. the Committee voted to table the issue unless requested to address it by the Chief Justice.


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