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California Breakup

April 10, 1988

In your paean to Arlene Colman-Schwimmer ("California Breakup," March 13), Susan Squire notes that Colman-Schwimmer "is called obnoxious, even outrageous, by her fellow lawyers," but that's the closest we get to criticism. At least one reason the members of the elite group of family lawyers to which Colman-Schwimmer belongs are accorded "grudging respect" is their ability to run up five-figure fees in the name of representing their clients. As volunteer mediators, these lawyers may use their considerable skills to settle even difficult cases. However, when working for fees of $250 per hour and more, not one of these lawyers is above arguing vociferously over trivial amounts and inconsequential issues.

The notion that the clients of this elite group of lawyers are "laughing all the way to the bank" is a ludicrous distortion. Much more often, they end up financially devastated and emotionally embittered. Almost always, they pay an awful lot for what they get.

FRANKLIN R. GARFIELD

Los Angeles

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