Sept. 2021 > Inbox


Letters to the editor published in Bar News must respond to content presented in the magazine and also comply with Washington General Rule 12.2 and Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990). Bar News may limit the number of letters published based on available space in a particular issue and, if many letters are received in response to a specific piece in the magazine, may select letters that provide differing viewpoints to publish. Bar News does not publish anonymous letters or more than one letter from the same contributor per issue. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, civility, and grammatical accuracy.

GR 12.2(c) states that the WSBA is not authorized to “(1) Take positions on issues concerning the politics or social positions of foreign nations; (2) Take positions on political or social issues which do not relate to or affect the practice of law or the administration of justice; or (3) Support or oppose, in an election, candidates for public office.” In Keller v. State Bar of California, the Court ruled that a bar association may not use mandatory member fees to support political or ideological activities that are not reasonably related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.

Email letters to

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Tests Don’t Lie

My family is replete with doctors and nurses. Each one had to pass rigorous examinations to be allowed to provide medical services to their patients. Thank God. To pass those tests each had to have extensive knowledge in their field. It is certain that without that knowledge they would be hazardous to their patients. I have, to date, heard no one say the tests are unfair because of some racial disparity in the number of those passing them. The only issue is competence. If medical providers do not have the objective knowledge, people suffer and die. The tests are not “equitable,” they are effective. “Equitable” has no place.

Terra Nevitt, in [her June 2021 Bar News column] “The Bar in Brief,” used the words “equity” and “equitable” in reference to admissions standards. From the context I assume she refers to admission to the Bar, rather than law school, which is another issue entirely. I know the concept of equity rather well since I am also licensed in Tennessee where there are still courts of equity, chancery courts. One definition of equity is “freedom from bias or favoritism.” A definition of equitable is “dealing fairly and equally with all concerned.” Nevitt uses those terms improperly in the context of her article. The Washington Bar is not a country club, it is a tremendously important guardian which has as its primary purpose the assurance to those in need that each person who offers services in legal matters is competent and ethical. The job of the Bar is absolutely not to consider the color of the applicant to practice. If the Washington State Bar Association is going to do its job, it cannot look to the ethnicity of the applicant. That, in turn, requires that it exclude any application of the concept of equity. The applicant has no claim for equity, just for equal treatment. Equity cannot measure or add to competence, therefore it cannot be a factor in the process to determine it.

The sole purpose of the bar exam must only be to serve the clients’ needs and fulfill the legal system’s obligation to assure competent counsel, not what some members of the Bar perceive to be a need to appear “woke.”

JeLaurence A. Deas, Puyallup

A Fun ‘Brain’ Jumper

I read the cover article on Chief Justice González. The chief justice stresses promoting “minority” gro

There was a note in Teresa Matich’s article [“Client Centrism: The Next Wave of Legal Innovation,” July/August 2021 Bar News] that was a thought creator. The note was: “There is not a single client who has ever wanted a lawyer—what clients want is a solution to a problem.”

That made me start thinking a lot about other people in professions, and I think the comment relates to all workers/professionals. Who ever wants a doctor? Or a chef or waiter or accountant or anything? Nope, none. What we want is a person we like and then we can appreciate what they can do for us. What we want are solutions, service, knowledge related to everything we have to do or live with. Very fun thought processes. It was a fun “brain” jumper.

Ed Huneke, Spokane

In re Headline

I read with interest the interview of Chief Justice [Steven] González [June 2021 Bar News]. However, I was somewhat alarmed with the Bar News cover title for that interview. “Working Toward a Just Court” sends an unambiguous message that the court is not currently “just.” Was that the intended message?

Keith Hamack, Seattle

Voluntary or Bust

Regarding [WSBA] President [Kyle] Sciuchetti’s idea about a House of Delegates [President’s Corner, July/August 2021 Bar News], why not just make the WSBA voluntary? That would also give the statement which followed Roger Ley’s letter to the editor [“Leave Policy to Politicians”] a ring of truth: “The WSBA is not a political agency.”

Inez Petersen, Enumclaw

The Rulemaking Process Is Flawed

In her column about the rulemaking process [July/August Bar News], Executive Director Terra Nevitt addressed the development of the proposed new disciplinary procedural rules. She believes that if we submit public comments to the court, “the system is working exactly as it should.” In the context of these proposed rules, I must disagree.

WSBA staff spent five years developing a new set of procedural rules without any opportunity for public input. No explanation has been provided for the exclusion of other viewpoints from the rulemaking process. The so-called stakeholder review was flawed as I addressed in my comments to the court, available on the court’s website. The process used this time contrasted sharply with previous overhauls of the disciplinary rules in which many stakeholders participated in the drafting process. Limiting our input to comments to the court is inefficient and impractical because the court does not have the capacity to consider every proposed change to such a large set of rules. Rather, the process appears designed to give the Office of Disciplinary Counsel even more power in a system that is already weighted in its favor.

According to documents I obtained through a public records request, shortly before the rules were submitted to the court for consideration, the WSBA’s chief disciplinary counsel and general counsel made a presentation to the full court about the proposed rules. This was not an open meeting and, as far as I know, no one else was provided an opportunity to meet with the court about these proposed rules.

The system is working exactly as it should if the goal is to let the prosecutors determine the rules without much consideration for the views of either grievants or respondent lawyers. Sugarcoating this deficient process doesn’t change what happened.

Anne Seidel, Seattle

Loving the Law

In these days of being somewhat confined due to the ongoing pandemic I feel the need to try and uplift my colleagues with a positive message: GAWD I LOVE THE LAW! Notwithstanding the time we are in, I know that most of you share my enthusiasm for our profession.

Each day, after I finish my coffee and sit myself down into the captain’s chair in front of the computer, in my mind I am fastening my safety belt, putting on my helmet and closing its face shield, and settling in to adjust the gauges before engaging the engine. Then I am off; first checking messages in the inbox for the Order of the Day. Sometimes, I even rub my hands together in anticipation.

Due to the pandemic I am, of course, working from home; but in the pre-pandemic era my faithful assistant would have appeared at my side saying, “Who we going to sue today, boss?” If, after returning to his workstation in the reception area, something of grave importance or an important visitor appeared, he would summon me with “Boss, report to the bridge.” Then we would create a plan of action. If I had to leave the office, my faithful assistant was jubilant at me telling everyone present that he had the con. Admit it, don’t we all miss those kind of days?

Colleagues, I miss you all. Like those healers who practice medicine and members of the clergy, we are descendants of an ancient profession—those who took an oath to serve justice. Notwithstanding that many of us, including me, are capable of poor choices in times of stress to the disadvantage of those around us, keep the faith. We will get through this. Band together, even if electronically, if a sounding board or other support is needed. As people, we lawyers have lagged behind the worldclass athletes who have only recently come to announce that their mindfulness is inseparable from their ability to perform under pressure.

Due to the nature of the adversary system, in order to fulfill our oaths many of us are cast in roles easily vilified, which causes added pressure—even cognitive dissonance. Take heart, your colleagues know who you are. Bless all of you for joining me in this great profession. Take precautions, remember your mindfulness, and like the old Doonesbury character join me in saying, “GAWD I LOVE THE LAW!”

Jack Fiander, Yakima

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