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Disciplining Lawyers

December 18, 1988

Recent news stories about lawyer Richard DeGallegos' alleged mistreatment of his legal clients were of interest to many people who have been frustrated (or made ill or made paupers) due to legal abuses. Their attorneys have: failed to appear in court or missed deadlines, filed or settled a lawsuit without a client's knowledge or consent, overcharged or kept the client's money, not answered calls, or kept the client informed, dragged out a simple lawsuit for 5 to 10 years, etc., etc.

Like a trip to the dentist, visiting a lawyer is probably inevitable for virtually all of us. The pain of injury, divorce, death in the family, business problems, or being sued eventually forces each of us to use legal services, at some time.

Unfortunately, far too many "victims" are further victimized by their own attorneys. Because lawyers secretly control their own "discipline" through the State Bar (rather than through an independent legal consumer protection agency or citizen review commission), complaining to the State Bar is usually futile. (The Bar should make the same services given to DeGallegos' clients available to the general public, for all problem lawyers. Unless the State Bar does so, such a single "example" is only tokenism.)

If you care about legal reform, please make time in your busy holiday schedule to show the State Bar that legal consumers refuse to continue to be victimized by lawyers.

The president of the State Bar will be available to speak, and to answer questions from the public about attorney discipline at 7 p.m. Monday at the Great American First Savings Bank community room, 2751 Via de la Valle, just east of Interstate 5.

NORA LA CORTE

Carlsbad

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