Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Politics: Harriet Miers, "Bar weenie"

Non-lawyers may not appreciate the relative insignificance of what have been touted as the jewels in the crown of Miers's resume: her election to lead the Dallas and American Bar Associations. I belong to my state's bar association, because a lawyer can't practice law in my state unless he or she is a member. Back when I was in private practice, I belonged to the bar association of the county in which I live, and to the American Bar Association. It wasn't required, but between the two, I got access to some decent seminars, a magazine, and discounts on Avis car rentals.

Each year, I receive and complete a ballot for state bar president. I read the candidate information and I look to see who endorses whom. I do this because I think it matters who's running the state bar. Each year, I have to send the bar a big check to cover membership dues, and the bar, in turn, takes the lead in many of the legal issues that arise in my state. I wish I didn't have to belong, but because I do, I'm interested in who's in charge. On the other hand, I had no idea who ran the county bar or the ABA when I was a member, because it just didn't ever seem worth my time to care.

A piece at by Mark Obbie nails it:
Guess who seeks election to [lead the voluntary bar associations]. Not the busiest, in-demand lions of the bar. Instead, it's usually the second stringers, the runners-up in the lawyer game. Real lawyers, for the most part, snicker about "bar weenies"—much as they did about the goofs in high school who ran for class president. Does David Boies spend his $800-an-hour time going to committee meetings and wrangling over the ABA's next convention schedule? Hardly. He might deign to give a speech at a bar gathering if he can fit it into his busy trial schedule. But bar weenies—their slightly kinder name is bar junkies—are the ones holding the Town Car door open for Boies when he arrives at the hotel. And when they're not doing that, they're jabbering endlessly about legal-regulatory policy questions that even most lawyers find stupefying.



Mike Hillwig said...

Oh, it's so worth it for the Avis discounts, right? :)

Mike Hillwig said...
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Doug Lee-Knowles said...

Yeah, plus I love the glossy magazine with stock photos of serious-looking, clear-skinned people in suits.