IT HAS BECAME A CLICHE to call major pieces of domestic legislation "lawyer's relief" acts, and like most cliches this one carries a strong grain of truth. The current candidate is the recently signed natural gas bill, which not only is expected to produce more work for Washington lawyers but to spread the wealth to attorneys in gas producing states whose clients never previously had to deal with Washington.
"It will be an absolute field day for lawyers,"said Jack Blum, who represents independent gas marketers.
"The major finds of gas," he said, "will be at the corner of Connecticut and K in the form of lawyer's arguments."
Besides what most experts - proponents, opponents and government officials - agree will be a large number of law suits over the next two to three years testing the complex provisions and regulations of the new law, attempts to fit gas finds into the highest possible pricing catagory (there are 32 of them) will keep attorneys busy from now until deregulation.
"It makes millions of dollars worth of difference if gas is found on a Monday or a Thursday. The only one who can turn the calendar back is a lawyer," said one Washington expert in energy law who asked that his name not be used.
As a result, said Chairman Russell Long (D-La.) of the Senate Finance Committee, gas producers in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma as well as other states will have to hire staff of lawyers and accountants.
"The only beneficiaries (of the law)," he said, "will be the armies of lawyers, accountants, court reporters and federal bureaucrats."
Among other provisions, the new law imposes federal price regulations on 40 percent of the natural gas in the country that is sold within the state in which it is found.
"For the first time," said former Federal Power Commission Chairman Lee C. White, now a Washington lawyer, "independent producers accustomed to operating in individual states only are coming under the long arm of Washington and are going to have to start filing papers on North Capitol Street (the headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Committion)."
"I would expect law firms in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas to do all right, and Washington will do all right, too," he added. "Sure, every statute involves a lot of litigation, but this is just going to have more of it. It's larger and more complicated than most laws.
"I don't see any way this can help but be a boon to the law business."
Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who shook up the D.C. Bar six months ago when he told them too many lawyers value fat fees rather than justice, is coming back to Washington to speak. This time he will address a more receptive audience, the Washington Council of Lawyer's human rights forum, Thursday at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Clark will make the main address at 2 p.m. He will be followed by a panel discussion on the role of volunteer attorneys in human rights law enforcement and separate panels on human rights in different regions of the world.
"Its been a rought year for human rights in many parts of the world." said the Washington Council's president, jane McGrew in her invitation.
Anthony Nigro, secretary to the Committee on Admissions for the D.C. court of Appeals, breathed a big sigh of relief Friday when the list of people who passed last summer's D.C. Bar was posted.
Almost twice as many people took it this year than last because of new requirements that made it impossible for recent law school graduates to join the D.C Bar on the strength of having passed the bar exam elsewhere.
Of the 1,400 people who took the bar. Nigro said, 973 passed - a 70.5 percent pass rate compared to a 67 percent last year. This is one of the highest pass rate in the D.C. Bar's history.
The new chief judge of Superior Court, H. Carl Moultrie I, and his five division heads, will be honored Saturday at the Bar Association of the District of Columbia's 104th annual dinner at the Capital Hilton.
"The Superior Court has come into its own in recent years." said Bar President James J. Bierbower in announcing the dinner.
Laurence H. Silberman, former deputy attorney general and ambassador to Yugoslavia, will open a Washington office in January for the San Francisco firm of Morrison & Foerster - which he has had "long and close ties" with over the years. To do it, Silberman will give up his counsel relationship with the prestigious New York firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood as well as his fellowship at the American Enterprise Institute.
Two San Francisco partners of the firm, T. Robert Burke and L. Richard Fischer, also will work in the Washington office which Silberman expects to be up to six or seven lawyers by June. He said he first talked to the firm 18 months ago about either becoming a partner in San Francisco or opening a Washington office for it, but thought the time was not ripe them.
A committee of the Virginia State Bar heard comments from 25 groups on its proposed advisory opinions on the unauthorized practice of law in the areas of collections, savings and loans, banking and real estate. The committee held a public hearing, not an investigation as was reported here last week on the basis of a United Press International story from Richmond.
Short takes: NORML - the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws - will hold Hyatt Regency Hotel . . . Walter H. Ryland has been named cheif deputy to Virginia Attorney General Marshall Coleman, replacing Stuart H. Dunn . . . Paul F. Rothstein of Georgestown University Law Center and former Rep. William L. Hungate honored for pushing laws to compensate crime victims . . . New York attorney Richard H. Reiben plans to open a legal clinic in a Long Island department store charging cut rate prices - $15 for a consultation, $5 for a simple will and $150 for an uncontested divorce.