Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 48

WORTH READING

Money, Ethics & the Pursuit of Justice
Review by Kathleen Troy

Turner Publishing Company

Ronald Goldfarb explores these and many
related questions in his latest book, The Price of
Justice: Money, Morals and Ethical Reform in the
Law. In laying out his case for wide-ranging
reforms, he argues that the legal profession
has largely abdicated its role as the guardian
of "justice for all." Goldfarb charges that lawyers
increasingly gravitate toward well-heeled clients
whose causes often hurt wider social interests,
stray from their professional obligation to fight
injustice in the criminal and civil legal systems,
and fail to dedicate significant time and
resources to aiding those without means.

S

hould lawyers be judged by
society based on the clients
and causes they represent, or
do traditional legal norms shield
them from judgments about their
personal morals and ethics? Do
lawyers have an obligation to
consider broader public interests
in choosing clients and matters?
Should anyone who can't afford
an attorney be entitled to one at
public expense in both civil and
criminal cases? Are the structures
and administration of our adversarial-style justice system fundamentally flawed, especially for
those who can't pay soaring legal
fees?
48 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

The Price of Justice advocates for an ambitious
agenda for change, aimed at audiences within
and beyond the legal profession. Inspired by
Supreme Court Justice Harlan Stone's call for
legal education to instill in lawyers a broader
moral philosophy focused on "how to live,
rather than how to make a living," Goldfarb
reflects on insights and lessons accumulated
over a long, notable career in government and
private practice. He challenges the legal profession to consider the societal impact of its work,
take more responsibility for providing legal
assistance to the indigent and underserved,
and stop hiding behind established ethics
"myths" that attempt to rationalize serving
clients and causes that do more harm than
good in society.
Goldfarb opens by questioning two of those
"myths": the principle that lawyers should not
be judged, morally or ethically, on whom or
what they represent, and the belief that an
adversarial legal system is the fairest and most
efficient way to discern truth and justice. He
criticizes highly paid attorneys, dismayed by
press condemnation when they use aggressive
tactics and serve as "hired guns" for big corporations or controversial political figures, and
praises those who battle "antisocial" interests,
like tobacco companies and other purveyors
of unsafe products, polluters, and wealthy sex
offenders. Goldfarb argues that legal ethics
- and personal morality - allow lawyers to
choose their cases, and lawyers shouldn't be
surprised when others judge their characters
based on perceptions of the immorality or
social harmfulness of their advocacy.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

Two chapters highlight Goldfarb's observations
on serious flaws in the criminal justice system,
including misconduct by police, prosecutors,
and judges, as well as fundamental unfairness
in the civil justice system for low- and middleincome people who cannot afford good law-
yers. On the criminal side, numerous examples
illustrate how prosecutorial overreach disproportionately impacts those without deep
pockets. Among these injustices are evidencewithholding Brady violations; excessively high
rates of plea bargaining, which shortchange
poor defendants of a full jury trial; inequities
in the private bail system; convictions of
innocent people for capital offenses; insufficient and inept forensic resources, sometimes
with prosecutorial complicity; and lack of
accountability.
Turning to the civil justice system, he argues
that public defender and legal aid services
today are hobbled by meager resources, a
shortage of trained attorneys, and a proliferation of mechanisms used by powerful individuals and organizations to short-circuit full,
public hearings of important issues. Goldfarb
also argues that the widespread use of confidentiality agreements and out-of-court
settlements hinders the public's interest in
transparency about issues such as sexual
harassment and predation. Under our current
inadequately funded system, justice is not
equal for all but is, in reality, "for sale," he writes.
In the chapter "Personal Choices," Goldfarb
offers a brief tour of his legal career, illustrating
that his considered choices of clients and
matters over the years "demonstrate that one
can practice widely, generally, with public interests at the center, without taking an oath of
poverty or succumbing to strictly commercial
values." He highlights his work in bringing
about significant change in conditions at the
D.C. jail and his service on a review board
tasked with overseeing and implementing a
federal court order mandating that U.S. labor
laws be applied to migrant farm workers. His
message is clear: Lawyers need to serve a
higher purpose in society to promote fairness
and ethical outcomes in criminal and civil
legal systems. They need to stand up to
continued on page 50



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Family Law Assistance Network feature
An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Qualified Immunity feature
Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Family Law Assistance Network feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Qualified Immunity feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 54
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 57
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 58
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 59
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 60
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 61
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 62
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 63
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 64
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 65
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 66
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 67
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover4
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