JUSTICE FOR THE 99%ERS

The civil legal system has become very costly for the average person, or the 99%ers, as I will refer to them. The Occupy movement lobbies for financial relief and assistance for 99% of Americans, as compared to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Although small claims courts exist which have inexpensive filing fees, and do not require legal representation (although I recommend hiring a lawyer because they are still courts and involve the legal process), either party, whether victorious or not, can appeal from those decisions. The court one would appeal to is far more expensive to litigate in due to formal rules and procedures, and one should definitely be represented by a lawyer in that type of court.

The news media often carry articles and stories about law firms, but much of this coverage is due to news releases sent by marketing departments or public relations agencies hired by these firms. Most law forms who can afford these types of services are large law firms or occasional, specialized firms who handle cases in areas of the law where verdicts can be large, such as catastrophic personal injury. Therefore, it can appear to the average person that these types of firms rule the practice of law.

Yet, statistics are surprisingly to the contrary. Of lawyers in private practice, estimated to be 70% of all lawyers in America, or 635,000 lawyers, 48% of them, or 435,000 lawyers, work alone (they are called solo practitioners). The remaining 22% of lawyers, or 200,000 lawyers, practice in law firms of between 2 and 20 lawyers. I would guess that of that total, a high percentage of the 70% represent individuals and small business rather than large corporations. Yet, the myriad of rules and the high costs associated with participating in the legal system is prohibitive for average Americans, or the 99%ers. Although I am not advocating that the legal system be Occupied, perhaps the 70% of private lawyers practicing individually and in small law firms, and the 99% of average American, should work together to find a way to make the legal system more user friendly and less expensive to clients and their lawyers.

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