STARVE THE BEAST
This is a citizen’s guide to legal reform. It is time for direct action.
State Bar Associations are now unsure of their mission. Are they there to regulate lawyers or to protect the public? Large local law firms have been ripping off their clients and the public for years. Here is what to do about it.
Citizens -- Forget the court system. Forget lawyers. In a 2009-2010 study by the outgoing Executive Director of the Oregon State Bar, she found that more than ever before, citizens are deciding to represent themselves. She called for the Oregon State Bar to create resources to help citizens help themselves in the legal arena. For years in Oregon more than half of the divorces are completed by citizens without the help (?) of lawyers.
First, there are more “how to” books at your local libraries than ever before. Check out Nolo Publishing Company. They have guidance for citizens for every conceivable legal issue in EZ read formats. There are even more legal self-help resources at Powell’s Bookstore.
For disputes, forget lawyers and forget small claims court. Instead, try your neighborhood dispute resolution forums located all around the state. If your county or city doesn’t have one then tell them to get one. Most locations started these ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) systems in the 1980’s. Or, hire a trusted friend, a local church leader or a local business person in the field to mediate the problem. They are everywhere waiting for your entreaty.
As a last resort there are legal forums on Craigslist.
Small Business Person -- Start with your CPA or accountant to counsel you on what you need to do. Then go to the self-help books described above. Then try an underused resource -- your local county legal librarian. All large counties have a law library usually located near the courthouse. These law librarians are nuggets that nobody thinks about. All of them are willing to guide you to the resources you need to solve your legal problem. They will help you on much more (and even on sophisticated issues) than you might imagine.
Business Persons in General. -- Never, never go to your downtown lawyer. The biggest golden goose that needs to be slain is located there. Instead, there are hundreds of organizations out there with knowledge to help you through. SCORE for example is an association of retired executives that have endless resources of knowledge on even the most complex business issue. The Construction Contractors Builders board has a very efficient dispute resolution system that is also found in other professions such as the Realtor’s Board.
These dispute resolution systems should be consulted BEFORE going to a lawyer and BEFORE resorting to a lawsuit.
Lawsuits and discovery are the feeding trough for large downtown law firms. STARVE THE BEAST:
Do not use lawyers. Do not use the court system. Do it yourself. You will be surprised at how easy it is and how satisfying. Well, some things are easy enough to do it yourself. But, see below, the article on appeals. Lawyers and legislatures have gone out of their way to make some things difficult. For those matters I would start out with your local friendly county law librarian. The idea is to think twice before consulting your lawyers, even those lawyers with a good heart, until you see if you can solve it yourself without involving the legal community. Maybe then we can get their attention. By starving the beast.