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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 01:45 PM
Original message
Pro bono: being fair to Edwards
I posted this on an anti-Edwards thread, but I think it should have its own thread because I think it's important information, and some posters might not have seen my post.

http://www.overlawyered.com/2004/07/pro_bono_being_fair ...

Pro bono: being fair to Edwards

A Washington Times editorial asserts that John Edwards during his career as a plaintiff's lawyer "took no pro bono cases", which if true might expose him to obloquy and also could put him into conflict with the ABA's Model Rule on the subject ("The science of malpractice", Jul. 25; see KipEsquire, Jul. 25). Tucker Carlson voiced the same charge on CNN "Crossfire" Jan. 12 (transcript).
But is the charge accurate? In a quick search on "John Edwards" + "pro bono", the most prominent article to turn up is Adam Liptak's Jul. 14 New York Times piece,

"Edwards's Lawyerly Style Drew Fierce Foes and Fans", which phrases things rather differently: "Mr. Edwards handled no notable pro bono cases, the typical vehicle for lawyers who want to have a larger impact." (emphasis added). The difference is potentially significant, since an attorney might devote considerable effort to pro bono work without handling any court cases that his colleagues might recognize as notable (say, because they sought to shape the course of the law).
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Adelante Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
1. Has Edwards ever commented one way or another?
I sort of remember this issue from 2004, as well, but I don't recall him talking about it.
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zbdent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 01:52 PM
Response to Original message
2. truth is not an option to Republicans and their sycophants ...
it's like kryptonite to Superman for Republicans ...
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asdjrocky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 01:53 PM
Response to Original message
3. Thanks Frog
But as I've said, weather or not he did pro bono work makes no difference to me. I support him, as always.
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geek tragedy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 01:58 PM
Response to Original message
4. Is there any evidence that he did ANY pro bono work? n/t
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Clark2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. No. eom
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Beaverhausen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. the sentence "he did no notable pro bono work" infers that he did indeed do pro bono work
It just wasn't "notable." Not sure what counts as notable - I assume that meant high-profile cases?
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geek tragedy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. No, it doesn't. It just means that there
was no high profile stuff, i.e. stuff that could be discovered through news accounts.
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slick8790 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Yeah, it does.
Why would they say no "notable" pro bono work if there wasn't any at all? Why not say flat out, no pro bono work?
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geek tragedy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 06:25 PM
Response to Reply #11
24. Because they don't have access to his files.
They can't prove a negative.

All they can say is that there weren't any high profile ones, e.g. ones that got public attention.

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Beaverhausen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. I'm confused. I think we are agreeing
He did pro bono work, just no 'high profile" stuff, just like you said.
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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
6. Kansas City paper said "little pro bono work)
As a lawyer, Edwards went for the big payoffs, making millions suing doctors, hospitals and corporations and building a net worth he's reported at about $30 million. Edwards wasn't an anti-poverty lawyer, and he did little pro bono work. He didn't emphasize fighting poverty when he ran as a moderate in 1998, defeating Republican Sen. Lauch Faircloth, or during his six years in the Senate. http://www.kansascity.com/445/story/372793.html

says he did "litle" not none.

*******


And another perspective -

Kirby said he was unaware of Edwards doing pro bono work while he headed his own firm, but he often adjusted or waived his fees for people of limited means. He said that about half of Edwards clients could be described as the working poor.

"What I saw up close and personal was somebody who never turned his back on anyone who was truly in need," Kirby said. "Probably the most impressive thing about John is he had a core value that everyone deserved respect whether you were a bank president or whether you were the janitor's assistant cleaning the floor." http://www.newsobserver.com/politics/politicians/edward ...

"unaware" doesn't mean it didn't happen. I think the rest of what Kirby says is important to note, too.
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Thanks mzteris
Edited on Wed Nov-28-07 02:42 PM by frogmarch
for your post and links.

Yes, The Washington Post and other sources twisted the truth by removing the word "notable." Attorneys are expected to handle some pro bono cases. Even if Edwards did no pro bono work per se, I'd call his adjusting or waiving his fees pretty close to it.

Something else to consider:

Civil litigators normally don't require any money up front from their clients and pay investigation fees and other related costs out of their own pockets. If they win a case, they make around 30%. If they lose a case, they lose a whole lot of time and money.

Edwards as a lawyer was in this category. He worked on a contingency basis, and his clients were people who couldn't afford to pay a lawyer by the hour to represent them.

I'd like to know how much pro bono work the other candidates have done.
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Orangepeel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
9. what kind of "notable" work do people want him to have done?
he's not a criminal defense attorney, which is the kind of pro bono work that gets headlines.

If he "often waived his fee" for people in need (see post #7), then that is pro bono.
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LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 03:10 PM
Response to Original message
13. umm isnt his run for the Presidency and service in the US Senate the ultimate pro-bono work?
He could have just kept being a filthy rich lawyer but gave it up for a much lower paying Senate job.
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EV_Ares Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 03:11 PM
Response to Original message
14. Thanks frogmarch, it does deserve its own thread and I posted that
one or one like it as well on that anti-Edwards post. He has done plenty of pro-bono work in his own way among all of the other work he has done for others.
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Thanks, and I am sorry I missed
your post! In a way, I think it's good that that anti-Edwards thread was started, because it's given us a chance to bring the "no pro bono" rumor out in the open and expose it for what it is.
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EV_Ares Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 04:07 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. LOL, you and I are thinking exactly alike except I hadn't thought
Edited on Wed Nov-28-07 04:10 PM by EV_Ares
about posting this in its own thread, so Iam glad you took care of that.

I posted to a Hillary supporter and I actualy K&R the thread telling them I wanted it to get the good exposure it is giving Edwards.

Didn't get a response from him though.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 03:47 PM
Response to Original message
16. Good thread... and needed...
I try to be an "honest broker," given my own state caucus is so far out it won't have any real impact. So, I don't have the need to become fixated on one candidate or another.

That other thread was appalling in its negative spin --not the least because some DUers I'd also thought to be "honest brokers" were the ones drumming up the innuendo and ignoring anything to the contrary of their apparent previously-fixed opinions. I've lost a lot of respect for a couple of disingenuous posters today, even if I still remain unconvinced to support Edwards.
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surfermaw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
18. What would you call the Lackey Case
I think her name was Lackey, they were poor parents, John Edwards took the case not knowing if he was going to make a dime! I do know he has done work pro bono, but cant give you the cases , don't have the answer at my finger tips, are you trying to pull something here?
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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 06:10 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. As someone who does both freelance work
and volunteer work, I can tell you that there is a world of difference between doing work on spec, and doing it pro bono.

It's not honest to try to misrepresent work he did for profit (even if there was a risk of not getting paid), as nonprofit work.
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Bake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
19. And I will repeat my question from the other thread:
What difference does it make whether he DID pro bono legal work or not? What does that have to do with the Presidency?

Did Ron Paul do pro bono medical work? Did Obama do pro bono legal work? What about Biden? Kucinich isn't a lawyer, so what are we supposed to ask him about - pro bono mayoral work?

This is an irrelevant non-issue. A distraction.

Bake, Esq.
Ask me how much pro bono I do.
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 05:02 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. I agree
Edited on Wed Nov-28-07 05:03 PM by frogmarch
it's actually an irrelevant issue, but since it was the topic of a recent anti-Edwards thread, I thought this was worth a thread of its own.

I too wonder why Edwards is the only candidate being scruntinized with regards to pro bono work! Geez!
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Bake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 11:59 AM
Response to Reply #21
26. I wonder about that, too.
Particularly since he's not the only lawyer in the race.

Bake
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
20. More good stuff about Edwards
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Edwards
In 1993, Edwards began his own firm in Raleigh (now known as Kirby & Holt) with a friend, David Kirby. He became known as the top plaintiffs' attorney in North Carolina.<12> The biggest case of his legal career was a 1997 product liability lawsuit against Sta-Rite, the manufacturer of a defective pool drain cover. The case involved a three-year-old girl<14> who was disemboweled by the suction power of the pool drain pump when she sat on an open pool drain whose protective cover other children at the pool had removed, after the swim club had failed to install the cover properly. Despite 12 prior suits with similar claims, Sta-Rite continued to make and sell drain covers lacking warnings. Sta-Rite protested that an additional warning would have made no difference because the pool owners already knew the importance of keeping the cover secured.

In his closing arguments, Edwards spoke to the jury for an hour and a half and referenced his son, Wade, who had been killed shortly before testimony began. Mark Dayton, editor of North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, would later call it "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen."<15> The jury awarded the family $25 million, the largest personal injury award in North Carolina history. The company settled for the $25 million while the jury was deliberating additional punitive damages, rather than risk losing an appeal. For their part in this case, Edwards and law partner David Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.<13> The family said that they hired Edwards over other attorneys because he alone had offered to accept a smaller percentage as fee unless the award was unexpectedly high, while all of the other lawyers they spoke with said they required the full one-third fee. The size of the jury award was unprecedented, and Edwards did receive the standard one-third plus expenses fee typical of contingency cases. The family was so impressed with his intelligence and commitment<12> that they volunteered for his Senate campaign the next year.

After Edwards won a large verdict against a trucking company whose worker had been involved in a fatal accident, the North Carolina legislature passed a law prohibiting such awards unless the employee's actions had been specifically sanctioned by the company.<12>

In December 2003, during his first presidential campaign, Edwards (with John Auchard) published Four Trials, a biographical book focusing on cases from his legal career. The success of the Sta-Rite case and his son's death (Edwards had hoped his son would eventually join him in private law practice) prompted Edwards to leave the legal profession and seek public office.
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asdjrocky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. k for Edwards
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youthere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:37 PM
Response to Original message
25. This might be a stupid question but...
is this really an issue? Seriously? Are attorneys required to do a certain amount of pro bono work or something?

Okay..that was actually three questions.
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