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'Unlovable Lawyers'

August 28, 1988

As spokesperson for the 25,000 members of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn., I must take issue with the premise of "Those Unlovable Lawyers" (editorial, Aug. 13). You hint that lawyers can only do a good job for their clients if they are aggressive, unpleasant, and unlikable. You imply that lawyers spend the bulk of their time helping corporations escape liability and criminals escape jail. You suggest that if lawyers really want to improve their professional image, they discipline their unethical peers, find alternatives to litigation, and do more pro bono work.

We lawyers must need a public relations campaign if a newspaper of your influence has no better understanding of what lawyers do in this very county than your editorial suggests you do.

The lawyers of our association spend literally thousands of hours each year providing legal assistance to the poor, the terminally ill, the physically handicapped, the victims of domestic violence, and the mentally ill. Still more time is spent helping people resolve their disputes without resorting to the courts through Bar-sponsored mediation and arbitration programs.

Among these programs are:

--Public Counsel, the public interest law office of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Assns., which annually provides $8.25 million in free legal services to the poor.

--The Hospice/AIDS Project, one of the largest AIDS legal assistance programs in the nation, with 180 volunteer lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries assisting more than 800 clients this year.

--Dispute Resolution Services, Inc., which assists individuals in resolving their disputes through free or low-cost mediation outside the court system. DRS last year assisted more than 6,700 people.

There are many more programs: the volunteer lawyers of the Domestic Violence Project assist victims of domestic violence in obtaining temporary restraining orders; the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, sponsored jointly by the County Bar, Black Women Lawyers Assn. and Women Lawyers Assn. of Los Angeles, provides free or low-cost family law assistance to residents of South-Central Los Angeles; the Immigration Legal Assistance Project assists those with immigration problems.

This recitation could go on and on. The message, however, is simple. Many lawyers care about the needs of the poor and disadvantaged, the expense of litigation, and the image of the profession.

MARGARET M. MORROW

President

L.A. County Bar Assn.

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