Tuesday, March 11, 2008

National Healthcare? How About National Legalcare.

I wondered aloud on the show this afternoon that if National Healthcare seemed like a good idea to the Democrats and many of the party's faithful then why not National Legalcare? Follow me on this one. 

The chief argument for National Healthcare is that it offers affordable high quality healthcare to all despite their income. Democrats, like CT's own Chris Dodd and Bay Staters John Kerry and Ted Kennedy gleefully offer Americans the same high quality healthcare that they receive from their Congressional Plans. No one, we are told, should be denied this same quality care simply because they cannot afford it.

Now along comes Democrat Elliot Spitzer. Caught with his hand in the ... umm ... caught in a high class call girl scandal that allegedly involves wire transfers of substantial sums of money and transporting a woman across state lines for the purpose of purchasing sex. Heavy charges if true and explains why the man who was born with the "silver spoon" in his mouth (no wait that's George HW Bush, right?) ... OK then, born with a whole lot of dough, would hire a high priced law firm to represent him. The best money can buy research shows.

According to Findlaw's Information first year associates make $160,000 and it goes up from there. And According to WikipediaPaul, Weiss was ranked the third most profitable law firm in the United States in 2006 in terms of average partner compensation after Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Cravath, Swaine & Moore (and fourth after these two and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in terms of profits per partner).

Now consider the recent news that 1 in every 100 people has landed in jail, and armed with the knowledge that most of these people are poor and likely are denied the same legal representation as the rich because of their financial status ... does it not follow that national legalcare is more or as important than healthcare. The kind of legal care that up to this point, only the rich like Spitzer and OJ could afford. Why can't we get access to that kind of legal care?

Oh please, don't tell me that the poor have access to public defenders. Not the same as a high powered firm, not the same resources or power behind them no matter how talented those public defenders might be. And while there are a lot of lawyers out there, there ain't enough "pro bono publico" to keep everyone happy and out of the slammer. But a national legalcare system would assure that "Paul, Weiss" would be available to represent the 15 year old kid on the street nabbed running drugs, money, or numbers, with all of the same vigor it will put behind Spitzer. Yea, even if they object, the national system would force them to handle the case and all other cases of the poor. Afterall ... they're rich, the very people who got the "tax cuts they didn't ask for." National Legalcare would make those rich lawyers work for the breaks they've received in the "lottery of life." Plus, I think it was Greg from Massachusetts who called in to say such a plan would also help bring down the cost of healthcare, the cost driven up by lawsuits, since lawyers would be assigned by the government and fees ultimately paid by the government.

My guess is since any legislature is made up mostly of lawyers ... not doctors ... the chances of getting this one through are ... well let's just say it's probably not high on the ABA's agenda or that of the people's party ... The Democrat party. No, my guess is National Healthcare sounds like a much better idea ... to those laywers.

One last note: Before all of you lawyers jump ugly, let me just say I grew up idolizing a lawyer. My big sister worked as both a prosecutor as an AUSA in Miami and then as a partner with one of the largest firms in South Florida and later as a law professor at the University of Miami. Top it all off with the fact that she accomplished all of this in the 60's and 70's, long before women law partners had become commonplace, you can understand my admiration for her and her profession. So my thoughts here are based on political hypocrisy, not legal. And while I cannot speak for her, given her libertarian leanings and her disdain for both politicians and victicrats, my guess is there is little here she would argue with.