U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.) may be a lawyer but he's mad as hell at some members of his profession and says he's not going to take it anymore.
His wrath is aimed at lawyers who work on Capitol Hill for the most part, the committee staffers who draft and analyze legislation in a way that even most lawyers cannot understand.
The senator says he plans on invoking what he calls the Simpson terrorization process the next time a committee staffer brings him an unintelligible document. He says he is going to sit the staffer down, ask the staffer's name, and ask the staffer if he or she wrote the document.
If the staffer admits to writing the document, Simpson said, he is going to ask "Why didn't you use English, and what were you trying to say?"
He said he has come to the conclusion that "the only thing they (Hill lawyers) fear is embarrassment. I don't want to humiliate the fellow, but accountability has to be a part of it."
Simpson said he has been presented "the goofiest-looking legislation known" by committee members who "just sit around all day ginning up the same old stuff."
His point is to have laws written more clearly and to "make laws more understandable to the governed." If that can't be done, he asks, "Why bother?"
Simpson was one of three panelists on a National Town Meeting forum at the Kennedy center last week on the topic of "Those Lawyers 1$$1/81/8!!: Too Much Law and Too Many Lawyers."
All of the panelists -- even staid American Bar Association President Leonard S. Janofsky -- agreed there was too much of both.
But the two panelists who were most outspoken -- and whose remarks were clearly in tune with the thinking of members of the audience who questioned them -- were Simpson and Legal Services Institute director E. Clinton Bamberger Jr.
And the central concern of the audience seemed to be, as you might expect, the high cost of lawyering.As Simpson put it in his opening remarks, the fees charged by some lawyers for their services shows that "greed stalks our profession."
"We make law a kind of mystery . . . divorced from the realities of life," Simpson said. Bamberger agreed, saying that the problem of fees has made it nearly impossible for the middle class to to afford to hire lawyers.
"We need to de-lawyer (and) delaw a lot of things and de-mystify the practice of law," Bamberger said.
The panelists tossed around the idea of having more legal work done by non-lawyers and trying to cut down the amount of work that requires a lawyer's help.
But the bottom line as usual after these sessions tends to be a lot of hand-wringing and little action. Last week's forum probably was no exception.
I even doubt if Sen. Simpson will ever terrorize a Committee staffer. He probably knows that if he did, the staffer might turn around and sue him -- with a lawyer's help, of course.
The D.C. bar's plan to faise its dues enough to buy a library continues to receive significant opposition.
The latest group to object to a plan to raise the dues ceiling from $50 to $150 for membership in the mandatory bar here is the Federal Bar Association, the voluntary group that represents government attorneys.
Federal government attorneys "have little use for the projected acquistion and operation of" the library, FBA President Thomas G. Lilly wrote in a letter to the D.C. Court of Appeals outlining his group's opposition.
"With the many government law libraries available to the government attorneys and to the public, it appears that this is an unnecessary expense to incur at this time," Lilly said. "It is not only the acquistion of the library but the maintenance of it in these high cost times which concern us."
He said his group might be willing to "understand . . . if the impact of inflation requires a modest increase" in the dues ceiling.
Stanley J. Marcuss has resigned as acting assistant secretary for trade administration in the Department of Commerce to become a partner in the Wall Street law firm of Milbank Tweed Hadley and McCloy. He will open the firm's Washington office in early June . . . A new firm has been formed in Rockville by Steven Van Grack, Jeffrey M. Axelson and Samuel D. Williamowsky. It will focus on real estate work, representing businesses, and working in the areas of litigation, poltical representation and negotiation. It will also have a satellite office in Washington . . . Another new firm opening here has been formed by Walter B. Laessig, Gary A. Brown, Stuart Revo and William C. Hearn. All of the forming partners are specialists in Middle East affairs, and part of the firm's announcement was written in Arabic.