Lawyers are sometimes given a bad rap.
They generally rank low in public opinion polls.
They are often depicted in film as despicable shysters, out to make a buck, willing to lie, cheat or steal to protect their clients or their own pocketbooks.
But ask any person where they should turn when they face a serious business, financial or even personal problem, and the correct answer will often be: "Ask a lawyer."
And that is exactly what you can do, at no charge, Saturday at your local shopping center.
Friday is Law Day, and in celebration of the annual event, first proclaimed by President Eisenhower in 1958, local bar associations are sponsoring an "ask a lawyer" day at certain Southern California shopping malls.
Although polls show that many people rank lawyers as a group in low regard, people often seem to think highly of their own particular lawyer and rely on him or her for sound, crucial advice. That may be because lawyers are generally most useful in a crisis.
If your liberty is at stake--you've been falsely accused of child molestation, for example--or if your life savings is at risk--you're a widow living on a pension and about to lose your home to an unscrupulous mortgage company--or if your family is about to fall apart and you're on your way to divorce court, your best advice is to seek the counsel of an experienced, ethical lawyer.
And they are not as hard to find as some might expect. The membership roll of the State Bar is filled with well-trained, conscientious, hard-working lawyers, many of whom donate some of their time for pro bono publico services (free legal assistance for the "benefit of the public").
However, you certainly don't have to face a life-threatening situation to use a lawyer, although sometimes--because lawyers can be so expensive--it does seem as if that is the only time they're worth consulting.
Lawyers can also be a source of valuable, helpful information. They can help prevent minor problems from becoming major legal headaches.
If your cocktail party circuit doesn't include barristers as regular guests, you can sneak a few relevant, pointed inquiries to a friendly lawyer--without having to pay the hefty bill--at one of these shopping centers: Carson Mall, Century City Shopping Center, Del Amo Fashion Center, Eagle Rock Plaza, Fox Hills Mall, Glendale Galleria, Plaza Pasadena, Santa Monica Place, Westside Pavilion, Northridge Shopping Mall and Panorama City Shopping Mall.
In conjunction with these activities, the Constitutional Rights Foundation and other groups are sponsoring two Law Day conferences Saturday for high school students in Orange and Los Angeles counties. There will be workshops on such subjects as sports and the law, the death penalty, freedom of speech and teen suicide. For information, contact Richard Marcroft in Los Angeles, (213) 487-5590, or Margaret Hall in Orange County, (714) 855-2101.
The Los Angeles County Bar Assn. is sponsoring a training workshop for lawyers, support staff and other interested persons concerning the processing of amnesty applications under the new immigration law. The seminar will be at the Los Angeles Hilton Hotel, 930 Wilshire Blvd., Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The $60 fee includes a training manual. For more information, contact Mary Mucha at (213) 485-1872 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.