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Attorney Van O'Steen

Bad Apples Taint Personal Injury Lawyers' Ranks

Van O'Steen

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In the recent past, Americans have been subjected to the spectacle of some of our lawyers wandering the globe in search of injured accident victims on whose behalf lawsuits can be filed.

Most Americans were justifiably offended by news stories of accident injury lawyers descending on Bhophal, India, and on the family members of the Delta Airlines crash in Dallas and the Korean Airlines tragedy near the eastern coast of the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, the conduct of these few personal injury lawyers taints the entire profession.  Collectively, lawyers are widely disliked, in part because of activities like this—activities that most lawyers deplore.

Although in-person solicitation of clients by lawyers is forbidden everywhere, the rules prohibiting it are difficult to enforce.  The result is that very few lawyers are punished for violations.

Undoubtedly, Americans need more information about lawyers, the services they provide and the fees they charge for those services.  The American Bar Association concedes that the vast majority of Americans do not use lawyer services, and that lack of information about them is a primary reason.

It is important that efforts to prevent unethical or abusive practices by lawyers not choke off legitimate and valuable channels of information.

Recommendations are a good source of information about lawyers.  Consider the advice you receive from family members or friends.  Other providers of professional services often are acquainted with lawyers.  Accountants, doctors and others may be able to give you important information to assist you in the selection of a lawyer.

A telephone call to a lawyer’s office may answer many of your questions.

Be skeptical of uninvited calls or visits from lawyers or “investigators.”  In some cases, you may want to report such contacts to the State Bar of Arizona.

To paraphrase Chief Justice Warren Burger, unless we act to curb the abuses of the present legal system, we may be on our way to a society overrun by hordes of lawyers, hungry as locusts.