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Are Lawyers Inherently Corrupt?

A study on international corruption in the legal systems around the world found that corruption is alive and well. Some findings:

  • Nearly half of all respondents stated corruption was an issue in the legal profession in their own jurisdiction. The proportion was even higher – over 70 per cent – in the following regions: CIS, Africa, Latin America and, Baltic States and Eastern Europe.
  • More than a fifth of respondents said they have or may have been approached to act as an agent or middleman in a transaction that could reasonably be suspected to involve international corruption. Nearly a third of respondents said a legal professional they know has been involved in international corruption offences.
  • Nearly 30 per cent of respondents said they had lost business to corrupt law firms or individuals who have engaged in international bribery and corruption.
Wow.

Ok, so I admit to insinuate that lawyers are inherently corrupt is unfair and superficial, but let's face it, corruption IS abound in the legal system. Surely, something about getting a J.D. does not automatically make one lose all sense of morality and ethics. Actually, I find this article quite timely as some of my family members and close friends were discussing this matter. My non-lawyer friends and family couldn't help but to notice that every other attorney they have met has some sort of crooked streak to them.

I think it comes down to
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One of the leading thinkers in Cyber Law, Lawrence Lessigreviews The Social Network on The New Republic. Check it out. Here's an excerpt:

Did Zuckerberg breach his contract? Maybe, for which the damages are more like $650, not $65 million. Did he steal a trade secret? Absolutely not. Did he steal any other "property"? Absolutely not—the code for Facebook was his, and the "idea" of a social network is not a patent. It wasn't justice that gave the twins $65 million; it was the fear of a random and inefficient system of law. That system is a tax on innovation and creativity. That tax is the real villain here, not the innovator it burdened.

Google Does it Again: Introducing Wexis

Like Lexis Nexus? Like Westlaw? What if you could combine the two... for free? Well, they are not being combined really, but Google is introducing Wexis, an upcoming new FREE online data base of caselaw. Many of us are already familiar with Google Scholar (which I love and use regularly when I want to view a case out of subscription). Nevertheless, compared to Westlaw and Lexus, Google Scholar is still pretty simple. I could not find any reactions by Westlaw or Lexis, but I think they will be more worried this time than when they released statements regarding Google Scholar.

Wexis is much, much more. Google is teaming up with law.gov to provide a free and authenticated legal database. Granted, Westlaw and Lexis are more than just datebases, but they also provide research tools, shephardizing, historical notes, and more. In any case, only time will tell in this battle of Information. (hat tip to Avvo Blog)
Yes, it's true. The Illinois Supreme Court has (finally) officially approved its Rules of Evidence.

I remember my first encounter with the Illinois Rules of Evidence. Although I practice in Illinois, most of my legal education was in Florida. Overall, where you get your legal education doesn't matter, but when I moved here, I just thought all states have their own state rules of procedure and evidence. Then when I was practicing here, one of my colleagues broke the news to me. I was crushed. Apparently, here in Illinois, you have to search case law to determine what it is acceptable in the realm of evidence.

But no more! Now Illinois has its own Rules of Evidence. As of January 1, 2011, when the Rules go into effect, our lives will be that much easier. (ps: good for clients too because it means less research for us = less cost to clients ? )

Major changes include:

  • Revising Rule 101 to clarify that the rules do not intend to abrogate or supercede any existing statutory rules of evidence;
  • Temporarily reserving Rule 407 which dealt with remedial measures taken in product liability cases until the Supreme Court rules on a pending case, Jablonski v. Ford Motor Co.
  • Revising Rule 702 to affirm that Illinois remains a state adhering to the core principles of the Frye test for admissibility of scientific evidence as set forth in Donaldson v. Central Illinois Public Service Co., 199 Ill. 2nd 63 (2002).
  • Reserving Rule
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What's truly the difference between an 'elite' school and a 'third tier' school? Who is smarter? A cum laude graduate of said third tier school or a Harvard Law graduate who barely made it?

Professors from UCLA and Brooklyn Law Schools have analyzed data from studies and concluding that yes, law school grades are more of an indication of a successful legal career than attending an 'elite' school.

Not surprisingly, the indicator of 'success' in a legal career was income. Which begs the question? What determines if a lawyer is successful? The part that is unclear to me is that there are many factors in the legal career itself that determine income. Corporate attorneys inherently make more money than say, a criminal defense attorney working for the government. They could be equally intelligent and legally savvy. How is that factored in higher-income=better-attorney formula? Or what if an attorney is really good at being a lawyer, but not very business savvy (if s/he is running a practice that is?)

Since I'm relatively new to the legal community (aside law school), I'm curious to hear from attorneys (or clients) the profile of what they consider to be a successful attorney.