Reforming the US Legal System

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

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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