Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brookings Institution: Clifford Winston: 'Open Legal Services to Competition'

Source:Brookings Institution- Clifford Winston.

"Clifford Winston: Opening up the legal services industry to competition is the way to go. From trucking to telephones, every U.S. industry that's been deregulated has been improved in two critical ways: with lower prices and more jobs. More:Brookings

The fact is American justice especially when to comes to dealing with legal services is about how much money you have and what you can afford to spend on your legal team. People win cases all the time because they had more money to spend on their case than their opponents. And can literally bankrupt the opposition or get them to drop the case or worst case scenario, force them to settle in way that doesn't hurt them and if their opponents had more resources, they could force the defense to pay more or give up more otherwise. 

People avoid going to jail or prison for crimes they probably committed. The OJ Simpson Case comes to mind in the mid 1990s, because they have a lot of money to spend on their defense. And people end up in prison a lot for crimes they didn't commit, because they didn't have the resources to put on a solid defense. And I'm thinking of people who have to settle for public defenders all the time, because they can't afford any lawyer, let alone a good enough lawyer who can put on a good defense for them. 

The American justice system unfortunately a lot of times is based on how much money you have. To sue or put up a solid defense, when it should always be about both sides putting up the best case possible. Having the resources to do so and the side that wins is the side that puts on the best case and has more facts on their side. 

But unfortunately thats of course not always the case and we've tried certain things to equalize this. With the Legal Services Corporation of America and public defenders offices and this is better than nothing but hardly equal. What the Brookings Institution is talking about is deregulating the Legal Services Corporation, which is a non-profit national law firm set up by Congress and funded by the Federal Government.

The LSC not having their own revenue being dependent on the politics in Congress and the Administration to determine their annual funding every year, instead of LSC going out and making their own money. LSC is a national law firm dedicated to representing people who can't pay for lawyers to defend them. Or represent them in prosecuting lawsuits. Its sorta like a national public defenders office, but the handle civil and criminals cases. 

What Brookings is proposing is to deregulate LSC and bring more competition into the system. And allow their clients to get a lawyers from private law firms. I'm guessing so their clients would have more choice in who represents them in court and out of court. Sounds like a reasonable proposal to me, the question is how would this be financed because these clients would still not have the resources to pay for their legal services. 

What I would like to do is two things, set up a system of non-profit law firms that have the resources to put on proper representation for their clients. As well as a legal services insurance system that people along with their employers would pay into. And then use that revenue to cover their legal bills. That the whole country would pay into and a system like this could replace both LSC and public defenders offices. Which can both be expensive to run because they don't have dedicated revenue to pay for them. And they have to compete with other parts of government budgets to pay for their operations. 

So what I would like to do is set up two systems, a legal services system and a legal insurance System. And each state would have their own systems that would have to meet basic Federal standards. And people would have the option of either paying into their state legal insurance system that would be run independent of government. Or buying private legal insurance, as well as the choice of paying for their state legal services firm for their legal services. Again run independent of government or paying for private legal services. 

Equal justice for all really needs to mean just that or its just another goal thats never been reached by this country. Instead of people getting the justice that they can afford. And end up not getting what's owed to them or end up going to prison and having a criminal record because they couldn't afford a sold defense.

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