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LA Times: Editorial: Lawyers are fighting innovative proposals for more affordable legal assistance. That’s wrong by The Times Editorial Board

Sunday, January 30, 2022 11:06 AM | Anonymous

Is the State Bar the right agency to regulate Paraprofessionals in light of mishandling of the Tom Girardi scandal?

The bar is an association for attorneys by attorneys. What interest does the bar have in the advancement of non-attorney legal providers? The Department of Consumer Affairs would be better tasked with development, regulation and oversight. 

"While low-income people charged with crimes are entitled to representation by a public defender, there is no similar right in civil cases. Lawyers take on some civil cases on a contingency basis, requiring no upfront payment. Still, some 70% of Californians who faced a civil problem in 2019 did not have legal assistance, according to research by the State Bar of California, which licenses and regulates lawyers. Health, finance, employment and housing were the most common legal problems they faced.

The bar’s mishandling of Tom Girardi — the high-profile lawyer who gained fame appearing on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and has been accused of bilking clients for decades without facing public discipline — raised questions about the bar’s credibility as a regulator. A Times investigation last year revealed that Girardi wined and dined bar officials as he faced complaints of skimming clients’ money and other unethical behavior. The bar is now investigating whether its own employees helped Girardi evade punishment.

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