The once honorable profession of law now fully functions as a bottom-line business, driven by greed and the pursuit of power and wealth, even shaping the laws of the United States outside the elected Congress and state legislatures.
— Justice John F. Molloy, author of The Fraternity – Lawyers and Judges in Collusion
When I began practicing law in 1946, justice was much simpler. I joined a small Tuscon practice at a salary of $250 a month, excellent compensation for a beginning lawyer.
There was no paralegal staff or expensive artwork on the walls. In those days, the judicial system was straightforward and efficient. Decisions were handed down by judges who applied the law as outlined by the Constitution state legislatures. Cases went to trial in a month or two, not years. In the courtroom, the focus was on uncovering and determining truth and fact.
I charged clients by what I was able to accomplish for them. The clock did not start ticking the minute they walked through the door.
The legal profession has evolved dramatically during my 87 years. I am a second-generation lawyer from an Irish immigrant family that settled in Yuma. My father, who passed the BAR with a fifth-grade education, ended up arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court during his career.
The law changed dramatically during my years in the profession. For example, when I accepted my first appointment as a Pima County judge in 1957. I saw that lawyers expected me to act more as a referee than a judge. The county court I presided over resembled a gladiator arena, with dueling lawyers jockeying for points and one-upping each other with calculated and ingenuous briefs.
That was just the beginning. By the time I ended my 50 year career as a trial attorney, judge and president of southern Arizona’s largest law firm, I no longer had confidence in the legal fraternity. I had participated in and, yes, profited from.
I was the ultimate insider, but as I looked back, I felt I had to write a book about serious issues in the legal profession and the implications for clients and society as a whole. The Fraternity: Lawyers and Judges in Collusion was 10 years in the making and has become my call to action for legal reform.
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