18 November 2005

Bar Associations

Bar associations have a reputation for being pro-plaintiff, antidemocratic, and just plain "liberal." I've believed for a long time that these beliefs are at best myths, and that bar associations merely reflect the unenlightened economic self-interest of their members. Some of the purported "political" or "ideological" basis may be genuine, but a careful examination of the actions of bar associations, as opposed to rhetoric put forth by ephemeral officers, indicates that it is a smokescreen (whether or not purposeful). The Florida bar has, I'm afraid, just demonstrated that I might be onto something.

What would you think of a TV ad showing a pit bull terrier in a spiked collar and the telephone number "PIT BULL" for a plaintiffs' firm? Would that "demean[] the legal profession and mislead[] the public"? Perhaps. Considering the public's perceptions of the legal profession, I don't think there's a lot of demeaning left to do! What I find interesting about this kind of "regulatory action," though, is that it never gets turned against insurance-defense firms. It seems to me that a claim that "we'll leave no conceivable defense behind" means exactly what a "reasonable consumer" would infer from the commercial that so upset the Florida bar—especially given the purported sophistication of the insurance-industry "consumer."