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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
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The Geezer Problem


What do you do with them?

I haven't given this question much thought - probably because I'm approaching geezerhood myself and I must have forgotten - but apparently state bar associations around the country are thinking about it.

I know this because the monthly column by the California State Bar president informed us that the bar has created a Senior Lawyers Working Group to make recommendations to "enhance the ability of those senior lawyers who choose to practice longer in a meaningful way, while at the same time ensuring that the interests of the public are protected."

In other words, "Yikes!

"There are a lot of geezers out there practicing law and something terrible might happen!"

Let me digress for a moment to note a couple of things because I'm old and my mind wanders.

Where are the committees studying geezer judges?

OK, a senile lawyer is probably not a good thing, but you'd think a lot of clients would notice eventually and go somewhere else.

You can't do that with a senile - or, shall we say, a "set in his or her ways" - judge.

It strikes me that some of those judges might be a bigger problem - but I'm not naming any names. Those guys are scary.

I say we study them but not let them know we're doing it.

The other interesting aspect of this is the aging population of the bar.

Normally, I'd consider continuing to live (and, therefore, age) to be a good thing. But according to the State Bar president, "48 percent of California lawyers are 55 or older compared with just 14 percent in 1991."

What does this mean?

I think there are several explanations:

Old lawyers are making younger lawyers disappear. Desperate to avoid competition, geezers are putting contracts out on new lawyers - really complicated ones with lots of fine print so that anyone who attempts to read and understand them will disappear for years or go mad.

No one is going to law school.

Law practice causes sterility, so lawyers are failing to reproduce.

The state bar exam has gotten really hard.

A lot of old people are getting legal degrees because they're unemployed and have nothing better to do.

Aliens are beaming younger lawyers to planets with lawyer shortages.

The answer is probably a combination of the above, but, whatever the explanation, we have problems. What are we going to do without a sufficient working lawyer population to care for elderly attorneys and use computers for them? And how do we protect ourselves from geezer lawyers?

The first question is the easier of the two. We need to amend our immigration laws to allow importation of legal talent from Third World countries where they're abundant.

Sure, there might be an accidental beheading or public flogging before immigrant lawyers get used to our system, but there's no reason to be close-minded about other ways of doing things.

Complete protection from geezer lawyers may be impossible, but tried-and-true methods can offer some relief. Try bringing them babies to hold, hot cocoa, hot young interns, and electronic devices they can't possibly use.

And then never call or write.

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