Oct. 2022 > Inbox


We welcome letters to the editor on issues presented in the magazine. Email letters to wabarnews@wsba.org.

Family Law Feedback

The recent glossy edition on family law (Bar News, July/August 2022), and its intersection with collaborative divorce, fails to address that the family law members of this Bar do not want to give up their autonomy and income stream to mediators. If we took a poll of the rest of us, we probably would vote against clogging up court dockets with all the family law and require mediation as the primary resolution to dissolution. Money talks, especially to family lawyers. A family lawyer here in Central Washington wrote in an email to me that family lawyers are “bottom feeders, vultures, who prey on people in the most vulnerable moments.” Our adversarial system of lawyering might work in some areas of law, to uncover the “truth,” but can any of us honestly say that the adversarial model has been a boon to families? I don’t think the system works, and until family lawyers are willing to stop blowing up mediations so that their gravy train will keep rolling, little will change.

Liz Hallock, Yakima

Long Gone Or Ingrained?

With every new issue of Washington State Bar News, I am again disheartened by the folks, mostly from east of the mountains and presumably all white, who proclaim that, e.g., “Systemic Racism is Long Gone” (Inbox, Bar News, September 2022). The irony of this, of course, is that attorneys (the licensed legal advocates) denying the obvious only provides further evidence of the widespread, deeply ingrained, nature of the problem.

Mark de Regt, Redmond

It is obvious from Mr. Stahl’s letter in the September 2022 Bar News that he did not read or comprehend the book I cited in my letter (Inbox, Bar News, June 2022) on systemic racism, The Color of Law. In chapter 10, Richard Rothstein documents the suppression of Black incomes by racist policies. In chapter 9, he documents the continued state-sanctioned violence that prevented integration of white neighborhoods at least through the 1980s (130 cases in 1989). In chapter 11, he documents that residential neighborhoods and schools are more segregated by race today than they were 40 years ago. He also documents how white suburbs created after 1945 excluded Blacks and thereby prevented them from building the wealth that middle class whites pass down to their kids today. Those suburbs also appreciated in value and became unaffordable for most Blacks before they had the opportunity to buy in those suburbs. This accounts for most of the wealth gap between whites and Blacks that I cited in my June letter.

Paul Majkut, Portland, Oregon

My first thought on reading Tom Stahl’s letter to the editor published in the September issue of Bar News was, this is a blueprint for how to say “I’m racist” without saying “I’m racist.” Then I thought, OK, Rea, that just isn’t very nice and I really don’t know Mr. Stahl, I don’t know his life experience or work; maybe Mr. Stahl isn’t educated on racism in Washington state or maybe he doesn’t come into contact with any situation where racism is present. So, my next thought was, I got to let Mr. Stahl know how wrong he is. Then I thought, OK Rea, that isn’t very nice either. You don’t accept what Mr. Stahl proclaims—that systemic racism doesn’t exist. Why would he accept it when you say it does exist?

If I start listing the different types of racism present in our society, those not included in Mr. Stahl’s limited definition, such as structural racism, institutional racism, social racism, political racism, scientific racism, aversive racism, cultural racism, or economic racism, Mr. Stahl may still stand by his opinion that we don’t have “organized structure of laws, rules, regulations, and institutional practices that enforce racism throughout the entire society.” I then thought about maybe pointing out specific examples and evidence of racism to perhaps educate Mr. Stahl on racism in our society. But I realized, he already gave readers his explanation why a Black person is different than a white person in our society. You see, when he says “there are other more likely reasons that explain disparity of income such as personal preferences for various jobs, aptitudes, work ethic, and cultural values,” I hear: Income disparity is due to Black people wanting to work in lower paying jobs. Income disparity is due to Black people not being naturally able to perform higher paying jobs. Income disparity is due to Black people not having the work ethic to perform higher paying jobs. Income disparity is due to Black people’s culture of not working higher paying jobs.

Mr. Stahl then seems to support his position by pointing out that other non-white, non-Black people make the same as or more money than white people, so our society can’t be racist.

I don’t agree with Mr. Stahl’s position or his reasoning for his position.

So, how could I get Mr. Stahl to understand what I see nearly every day in America, including Washington state? I am white, so I can’t possibly convey information about racism in a genuine way that would ring true to Mr. Stahl. But what I can do is apply his reasoning to me. He can’t take away what has and will happen to me.

I am a female. The most recent ABA report of income disparity between male attorneys and female attorneys is: Female attorneys earn $1,619 per week on average and male attorneys earn $2,086 per week on average. This means female attorneys make $467 less per week, or $24,284 less per year, than their male counterparts.

Applying Mr. Stahl’s analysis, I make less than my male counterpart because I am not naturally able to perform like my male counterparts. I make less because I don’t have the same work ethic as my male counterparts. I make less because my culture dictates that men make more than I do.

If you can’t see that this is a bunch of hooey, then you are part of the problem. I encourage Mr. Stahl to talk to minorities and listen to the barriers that they face day in and day out that white people don’t face. Racism is real and it is present and it is systemic. But Mr. Stahl doesn’t have to take my word for it. Read State v. Zamora, 199 Wn.2d 698, 512 P.3d 512 (2022). Mr. Stahl’s statements are not harmless; there are others who believe as he does and by speaking out, he validates and perpetuates those ideas. This is not OK. I encourage all to learn about racism—all the different types and take part in trying to make our society better, for all of us. Give hope.

Rea Culwell, College Place

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.