Law Office of
CONTINUED CAREER AS POLITICAL ACTIVIST AND RESUMPTION OF LAW PRACTICE
From August 1984 until June
1, 2012, I maintained a full-time 50+ hour a week
solo law practice, dedicated to the representation of
individuals and organizations fighting for social
justice, particularly when my clients were wronged by
the actions of large corporations or governmental
entities. My practice was a direct extension of
my political and social activism in the late 1960s and
I never forgot that I became a lawyer to continue the
fight for a world where the right to democratic
principles and human rights, including worker rights,
civil liberties and a clean and healthy environment
would not be defeated by powerful and greedy forces.
The focus and principal accomplishments of my practice
can be found on the Overview page of this website.
also handle some general legal matters; but only cases
that promote interests I consider important, that are
intellectually challenging, or as an accommodation to
clients that have been loyal to me for many years.
I am emphatically not seeking
"opportunities to do pro bono work." I am
declining offers to do paying work that does not meet my
criteria, and I will not do work on a pro bono basis
that I would not do for a fee. Pro
bono clients are not necessarily any more deserving than
paying clients, their causes are frequently unlikely to
succeed, and the legal issues raised are no more
interesting than the issues raised in paying work.The
only difference between pro bono work and paid work is
the payment. Like Woody Guthrie, "I do not sing for bad
causes" and I expect to be paid when I work for
When I maintained a full-time practice, I did not distinguish between paying and pro bono clients, and will not do so today. My fee arrangements with my clients are private matters, and I will not stigmatize a client by referring to him or her as a "pro bono client." The New York State Office of Court Administration requires lawyers to disclose the number of hours that a lawyer devotes to pro bono work on their bi-annual registration statements, with the apparent goal of encouraging lawyers to do pro bono work. I answer "zero." I will not accept nor do I expect any recognition for pro bono work. I believe that the bar association's touting of pro bono work is hypocritical at best, especially since work for clients of limited means that is performed at a discounted rate, and contingency cases that are not justified as a business risk, but are undertaken because they are in the public interest, do not qualify as pro bono work.
Cases I will and will not handle
I intend to limit my practice to matters and cases that:
1) Can make a significant difference; preferably by confronting an institution or organization that is blatantly abusing its power.
2) Will assist an individual or organization that is plainly in the right, especially individuals or organizations active in the fight for social justice.
3) Are intellectually challenging. For example, I am willing to handle appeals of complex legal questions involving difficult statutory or constitutional matters and cases requiring mastery of complex scientific, public policy or technical information; I am not willing to handle cases that require extensive preparation or review of mundane documents and/or extensive meetings. I do not want to do boring work simply to generate billable hours.
Can be handled expeditiously
without a long-term commitment, especially where the
matter involves a particular area of law where I have
extensive experience, such as civil rights issues,
public sector labor relations,, environmental impact
review or energy issues.
Will help a long-term client or friend, and do not
violate the conditions below.
Generally, I will not handle:
Matters that will force me to
spend untoward hours in the drudgery of "litigation,"
particularly litigation that will last for years.
Although I am willing to brief and argue substantive
motions and appeals, and perhaps even try a case, I hope
I have engaged in my last discovery dispute, defended my
last deposition, and prepared my last set of paper
discovery demands or responses to demands, pretrial
filings or procedural motion papers. If I handle cases
that require such work, I will try to work with a firm
or other lawyers who are willing to do most of the
2) Cases with a very slim
chance of success that do not need to be brought. There
are many situations where a prospective plaintiff,
although clearly in the right, has a minimal chance of
success because of the bad state of the law. The federal
judiciary's assault on civil rights has had an effect,
and many cases that were once viable are now virtually
hopeless. Similarly, the effective repeal of standing
for many plaintiffs in both federal and New York state
courts means that are many cases where plaintiffs who
have been wronged are wasting a lawyer's time and their
own money by proceeding.
Representation of individuals
or organizations whose causes I do not entirely embrace.
In the course of my career, like most lawyers, I have
represented a number of people who were not entirely in
the right, and/or organizations whose views I did not
entirely share. Today, I will refuse to represent such
individuals or organizations. Nor will I tolerate
aggravating or excessively demanding clients.
Affiliation with other lawyers/law firms
welcome opportunities to work with other law firms on a
consultant or of counsel basis, particularly in civil
rights, employment discrimination and environmental
cases. Although I do not want to be the lead counsel in
a case that may take years to resolve, I am willing to
serve as “of counsel” to firms that are willing to
undertake the long-term commitment to prosecute cases. I
believe that I can offer relevant expertise and
experience and that my reputation will assist in the
resolution of the case.
4. Represent Local 175 of United
Plant and Production Workers, a union that represents
the majority of New York City asphalt pavers, in
administrative and legal efforts to stop Con
Edison from forcing construction contractors to
recognize a rival union that has lost the right to
represent the pavers in NLRB elections, and in efforts
to force New York City agencies to let Local 175
participate in Project Labor Agreements.
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