Hey, faithful readers, I'm trying to move this whole operation to a new blog. Please enjoy this article here: https://smithcountytexas.blogspot.com/2017/07/stupid-attorney-tricks-and-why-joel.html
The legal profession in shambles
Most Americans are not aware of this but the legal job market is a mess. For decades, U.S. law schools have churned out thousands more graduates per year than the job market can bear. You'd think that in free market, this situation would correct itself, but it is only getting worse, because new law schools keep opening, and existing law schools are going to great lengths to keep enrollment up. Awareness of this situation, ironically, has actually worsened the problem in that smart college kids are staying away from law school, while the law schools keep lowering admissions standards. At the same time, law school tuition is at an all time high, and crappy law schools typically charge as much as prestigious institutions. It's gotten to the point where anybody with a pulse (who can also borrow $150,000 in federal student loans) can get into law school somewhere. So, not only do we have too many lawyers, we are churning out bad lawyers faster than ever. To make matters worse, tort reform in Texas has limited "non-economic" damages (i.e. "pain and suffering") to a degree that personal injury attorneys can only hope to profit from cases involving severe injuries or extremely costly damage. It used to be that a shyster lawyer could make a living with a "sue everybody and see which suits stick" approach. But there are only so many torts to go around, or only so many ambulances to chase, so to speak. So, even for established law practices, business is down, as are attorneys' incomes. No, we're not talking about having to settle for a pre-owned Lamborghini instead of brand new. Newly-minted lawyers are having a hard time finding jobs that pay more than $60K per year, if they can find work at all, and solo-practice attorneys have to really hustle to bring in $70K.
This state of affairs might make your high school reunion a little more enjoyable in that you can now laugh at that smug jackass of a classmate who used to brag about "going to law school" and showed up at the 10-year reunion in a BMW. But this overabundance of bad lawyers is really causing some problems for the rest of us. After all, some of these dolts from low-ranked law schools manage to pass the bar (after several tries) and get to practice law. Most judges are lawyers, as are most of our state legislators. And American voters typically choose such down-ballot candidates on the basis of party affiliation and name-recognition, not academic or professional qualifications. I shudder to think about what our already dysfunctional criminal justice system is going to look like in ten years!
And then you have these hordes of hungry lawyers looking for ways to generate income, by any means necessary. For example, a few years back a gaggle of local attorneys tapped into a mother-lode and managed to rack up $1.33 million in charges in a single year--paid by Smith County taxpayers--to provide ad litem services related to child custody matters handled by one court! Finally you have our very own de-frocked county judge, Joel Baker who had worked for the DA four a couple of years, dabbled a little in private practice, and then went into local politics, where he could set his own salary and come and go (pun intended) as he pleased (pun also intended). He had a good thing going, then he threw it all away.
As an aside, here I must mention that some good things came out of the Joel Baker saga. It put our dysfunctional county government under a microscope, and now the county commissioners cannot so much as fart without the public knowing about it. And it was good, cheap entertainment for many of us. (I'd say "free" entertainment, but Baker's misconduct has cost the county something around $50,000 in legal fees, so divide that among all of the taxpayers and it cost us each a little.) On second thought his shenanigans put the county government in disarray for about a year, so maybe it wasn't so good after all...
Joel Baker, Attorney
Source: Smith County Jail
I snickered a little when I heard Baker went back into private practice. More power to him, I initially thought. But, if you remember the scandals I called "Peepergate and "Sexting-gate" you can understand why I got an icky feeling when I heard through the grapevine that he had been representing some juvenile defendants. I dunno...form your own conclusions.
Crazy lawyer stunts
What got me thinking about Baker's plight was seeing this video, which has gone viral:
It's Bryan Wilson, a Fort Worth lawyer whose video antics have made him a hit on YouTube. This one is over the top. My favorite part is when he lights one of those exploding shells that work kind of like mortar rounds, tosses it like a grenade, and it detonates a few feet away while he is "running away" on a treadmill! My first response was to laugh my head off. Then I got to thinking: Some kids are going to see that and think it is perfectly okay to shoot Roman candles at each other and set of packages of firecrackers on their heads! So much for Mr. Wilson's sense of social responsibility.
But, I got to thinking--this guy is on to something here. What an ambitious private-practice attorney like Joel Baker needs is a shtick--something to make him stand out in the crowd. And I say if you are already known nation-wide for something scandalous, embrace the notoriety and make the name-recognition work for you!
Joel Baker needs to make a video advertisement.
Here's what I'd suggest:
The first scene is Baker dressed up in a tuxedo, James Bond-style, at a roulette wheel in a casino, with several scantily-clad, attractive, young women hanging on him.Baker: The legal system in East Texas can be a real gamble. Don't leave it up to chance. You need a lawyer who knows the system from the 'inside'. You need ME! Traffic tickets? (Cut to the next scene which shows an exasperated housewife who smacks herself on the forehead as she looks at a document titled something like "Automated Speed Enforcement Violation Notification.")Baker: Drunk driving? In this scene, a police officer is talking to a driver while the camera cuts to empty liquor bottles on the passenger-side floorboard. (To save money, Baker's law partner can play the part of the driver.)
Baker: Divorce? In this segment, a husband is scrolling through sexually provocative messages and images of women wearing lingerie on his phone as his wife, standing in front of him with one hand on her hip, wags her finger at him
The final scene has Baker in an elegant hotel room, his bowtie loosened and the first few buttons of his shirt undone. He turns and points the camera on his iPad towards an open window in an adjacent hotel and starts recording a young Hispanic woman in lingerie as she bends over to plug something into an electrical outlet.Baker: Did something naughty? Don't get caught with your pants down! Stop hiding: TEXT OR CALL ME. Baker points the screen of his iPad to the camera and displays his phone number.
I think it'll work.