Reforming the US Legal System

The Opinion page article "Pricing the US Legal System," Sept. 11, is an example of the cynical propaganda that seeks to convince us that it is OK for lawyers to destroy American businesses to help the injured and get rich in the process.

I advocate the "English rule" that requires the losing party to pay the winning party's attorney's costs. This would do much to stop the plague of unmeritorious lawsuits that are eating away at the economic foundations of this country. Jon F. Myhre, Pasadena, Calif.

Much of the attack on lawyers by President George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle can be dismissed as partisan rhetoric, and much of what they propose as "legal reform" will do little to help the average voter. But they have tapped into a significant public discontent with lawyers.

The average voter is unhappy with lawyers and the legal system because most are shut out by its costs and by its complexity. Millions of Americans go without the legal help they need because they cannot afford to hire a lawyer - they cannot pay hourly rates which can be as high as 50 times the hourly minimum wage. Only 20 percent of those eligible can obtain help from subsidized legal services and pro bono programs.

Only when legal reforms that directly help average Americans handle their legal affairs in a simple, affordable, and equitable manner are instituted at the state and local level - and only when those reforms are encouraged, instituted, and supported by the organized bar and individual attorneys - will public discontent with lawyers be lessoned, if not totally eliminated. Scott R. Swirling, Washington Executive Director ,HALT/Americans for Legal Reform Remembering childhood

The Home Forum page article "Being a Kid in the 1930s," Sept. 15, brought back memories. In 1932 I was six years old. We lived in back of the meat and grocery store my father ran in Buffalo. The walk-in meat cooler required ice until the late '30s. Most of our customers depended on welfare checks or money from family members working in the WPA or Civilian Conservation Corps. Welfare then meant no car, and I believe one couldn't even legally own a radio. Richard K. Kaminski, Mt. Lebanon, Pa.

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