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Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet Miers' bar service

In a comment on my previous post, one of my readers made an important point about whether a position of an ABA committee with which Ms. Miers was involved can fairly be attributed to her. That prompts me to make a a few general remarks about Ms. Miers' bar service, written from my perspective as a practicing lawyer from her home state:

The State Bar of Texas is a very different sort of organization than the American Bar Association.  The Texas Bar includes every lawyer licensed to practice in Texas; membership is mandatory for, and equivalent to, having a license to practice. It is THE nuts and bolts organization of practicing lawyers in the state. It's almost completely apolitical, and it includes all sorts of lawyers among its active and regular participatants: conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, plaintiffs' lawyers and defense lawyers, personal injury and commercial lawyers, big firm lawyers and small firm lawyers, deal lawyers and adversary practice lawyers, office lawyers and courtroom lawyers, lawyers in private practice and lawyers in public service. (It even lets in law professors, but their influence is minor.) The Texas Bar is well regarded nationally among organizations of its kind, and it has been among national leaders and innovators in such things as promoting board certification and mandatory continuing legal education. Having been its president is a very impressive credential for a practicing lawyer, and a strong indication of genuine public spiritedness.

The Dallas Bar Association is similarly nonpartisan and apolitical, and historically the most active and best organized local bar group in Texas. (No offense intended to my friends here in the Houston Bar Association, which is also a very worthwhile organization, but they've been doing it better and longer in Dallas, including far more work that's had state-wide impact.) Again, being President of the Dallas Bar Association is a nontrivial credential — one taken very seriously by practicing lawyers there. It's not something you do to get ahead; it's something you do to be of service.

At least recently, the American Bar Association has been a far, far more controversial organization, one whose public positions I've often disagreed with. In fact, I and many other conservative lawyers long ago gave up on it. Harriet Miers didn't, and she's tried to keep it from swooshing off ever-leftward like a punctured balloon. That's actually a pretty good conservative political credential. Don't make the mistake, though, of tagging her with the ABA's crazy positions, or any of its positions for that matter, unless you can demonstrate that they're fairly attributable specifically to her.

Posted by Beldar at 04:56 PM in Law (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Harriet Miers' bar service and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) Yogurt made the following comment | Oct 3, 2005 7:49:43 PM | Permalink

Off Subject: Mssr. Beldar, Anxious to hear your take on the new charges on DeLay...

(2) Carol Herman made the following comment | Oct 3, 2005 11:18:14 PM | Permalink

Off topic response to your DeLay question is to point out that Earle got this new indictment out of a grand jury he just seated a few hours beforehand. AND, the judge is traveling in Europe. So the defense motion to drop these charges can't be heard until the "vacation time" ends.

I'd also like to go "off topic" and mention that Rehnquist was sick for almost a year. And, both Scalia and Thomas were maneuvering to be chosen as the "chief-replacement."

Instead, Roberts got the nod to fill O'Connor's seat. So, I'm quessing the appointments process is sort'a fluid. The way a manager makes decisions DURING a baseball game. Given that things can change in a hairs-breath.

Roberts was moved into position; while Rehnquist kept getting hospitalized. Even if some people thought he'd live for an extended time, wouldn't the doctors have been privy to terminal cancer? Wouldn't Bush have had some inner sanctum discussions with his advisors, going over what made sense to do?

I'm also betting that this president has an uncanny ability to bring people into his circle who are both good, and loyal. Does it amaze only me that there's no leaking from the White House? Leaking is such an old game, and Nixon could never control it, that I just about gave up. Yet the best administrators run a tight ship. And, this president does it without posting signs "loose lips sink ships." And, without censors opening and reading everybody's mail.

One of the biggest changes of the guard we've seen is that Bush has redefind the presidency, itself. It no longer requires a "smooth talker." But a DOER. I think he's among the ten best presidents EVER.

(3) Phelps made the following comment | Oct 4, 2005 10:23:26 AM | Permalink

BTW, the DBA was formed in 1947, and some of the charter members are still alive (or at least they were in 1997 when I videotaped an oral history session.)

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