Look Out: California Bar Invents Something for Nothing

A couple of weeks ago we posted a piece about IOLTA (click on www.gideonstrumpet.info/?p=4706) It was about Charlotte Allen’s op-ed in the L.A. Times (Legal Larceny by Lawyers, Jan. 2, 20133, at p. A15) in which she rightly criticized what she called  “legal larceny” by the organized bar’s IOLTA program  that — without mincing words — de facto steals interest that accrues on small amounts of money in client trust accounts, pockets it and then uses the accumulated funds for what it considers worthy litigational causes. Note well that this scheme does not apply to large trust accounts that accumulate a lot of money in interest — only to trust accounts of small fry litigants — the very people whose interest lawyers are supposed to protect with tender solicitude.

In response. Patrick Kelly, President of the California Bar, has written a piece for what the L.A. Times calls “Blowback” (a response to selected op-ed pieces, that is not printed in the Times newspaper but is avalable on the Times’ website).  Naturally, Kelly defends the IOLTA practices, which is expectable. But what is not expectable is that he completely ignores Allen’s specific critiques of the IOLTA program, as well as her point that IOLTA has been trying to rattle a tin cup, schnorring for other people’s money to support its own ideological agenda. This she aptly characterizes as “an experiment that is using other people’s money to buy advocacy that liberal lawyers like — but not enough to pay for it themselves.”

We could spend some time refuting all that stuff, but it isn’t necessary. Any intellectually honest person reading both piecces will observe at once that Kelly does not even try to refute Allen’s points. He merely tells his readers how wonderful IOLTA is, and ignores completely the fact that IOLTA is a failed experiment whose budget has fallen from $20 million to $6 million, and that the bar is now rattling a tin cup in an effort to get its hands on other people’s money in order to pursue the Bar leaders’ ideological agenda.

And what is Kelly’s bottom line? You’ll never guess. He proudly asserts that IOLTA is a case of “something for nothing” (His exact words). Poor Kelly. He evidently doesn’t understand that characterizing a scheme as “something for nothing” is to charaterize it as dishonest. Which is what Allen tried to tell us to begin with. To say nothing of the verity that that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch — somebody always pays, amd Kelly should be ashamed of himself for arguing in favor of shifting the cost of the Bar’s dogooderism onto the shoulders of those lawyers’ clients who can least afford it.


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