I’m hesitant to write yet a third post on the “Prefer a Jewish Lawyer!” bench ad, (you can read my first post here, and my second post here), primarily because I’m afraid of coming off as an obsessed nut. However, Congress still hasn’t taken any action on the estate tax, and I just can’t bring myself to write yet another treacly “if you don’t have a Will, then a cute little puppy will cry” post. There are plenty of estate planning attorney bloggers out there who do that.
Besides, I find this topic interesting.
It’s my blog and I’ll kvetch if I want to.
Brian Cuban is a Dallas, TX attorney who blogs at The Cuban Revolution and is the brother of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. According to his blog, Brian writes and speaks about social media and hate speech on the internet. After reading my earlier posts on the subject, he sent an email to the “Jewish American Bar Association” inquiring about the bench ad, and Lisa Spitzer — who according to the Florida Secretary of State is the sole officer and director of the for profit corporation — responded.
Brian gave me permission to post the exchange on my blog. With the exception of the redacting of (1) email addresses of all parties (2) the names of people who were CCed but did not participate in the conversation, Brian’s email and Lisa Spitzer’s response are posted unedited. After the email exchange, I will post my own comments.
If any of the parties involved, or any of their representatives, want to respond or comment further, they are free to contact me and I will post their response unedited and in full.
Brian Cuban’s Email to the “Jewish American Bar Association”
From: Brian Cuban
Subject: Your Bench Ad
Date: Monday, September 13, 2010, 9:54 PM
Your Bench Ad
I am writing a story with regards to your bench add soliciting clients looking for “Jewish Lawyers” , Whether you are aware or not, it has received negative attention on Twitter and blogs as being Anti-Semitic and pandering to Jewish stereotypes. It is also misleading as there is no such thing as The Jewish American Bar Association as any type of Bar Sanctioned entity. Would you like to comment before I write my story?
Lisa Spitzer’s Response to Brian Cuban
From: LISA SPITZER
Subject: Re: Fw: Your Bench Ad
Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 3:40 PM
It is legitimate. The lawyer referral service is in compliance with 4-7.8. The Florida Bar does not sanction voluntary bar Associations nor do they regulate them. It is an organization. There dozens of voluntary bar associations and ethnic organizations in the country. A local synagogue in Broward runs a Bar Association. We are not anti-semitic.
I am a social worker and graduate of NYU School of Social Work. Mr Shulman has most of his facts wrong. The ABA does have members and they charge dues for membership. A Bar association does not need to be run by a lawyer. Lawyer referral services do not split fees. We are quite legitimate and offer many services and benefits. People want Jewish Lawyers, female lawyers, gay lesbian lawyers and there are Bar Association for members in each of these categories. There are many Jewish organizations who promote Jewish lawyers nationwide. Find law has a specific search for JEWISH LAWYER and findajewishlawyer.com exists as well. We are not going anyplace. We plan on growing as a nationwide organization. This is much to do about nothing. It is high Holy days week now, a time if kindness and self reflection. Have a good day Lisa Spitzer
My thoughts on this exchange
There are a number of very interesting things in her email that I’ll save for a later post (always keep the audience wanting more), and I’ve already written a little bit about why I object to the “Prefer a Jewish Lawyer!” ad as a Jew.
In this post I really want to focus on why I find it so objectionable as a Lawyer. My objection to the “Jewish American Bar Association” is and continues to be that it’s name is deliberately misleading.
What is a “Bar Association”?
There are two types of “Bar Associations” — mandatory and voluntary. A mandatory Bar Association is the State Bar, i.e. the Florida Bar, the Georgia Bar, the California Bar, etc. These are called “Mandatory” Bar Associations, because if an attorney wants to practice in a certain state, it is mandatory that they be licensed to do so by that state’s Bar.
Then there are “voluntary” Bar Associations, which Ms. Spitzer claims the “Jewish American Bar Association” is. She further adds, “The Florida Bar does not sanction voluntary bar Associations nor do they regulate them. It is an organization. There dozens of voluntary bar associations and ethnic organizations in the country . . . People want Jewish lawyers, female lawyers, gay lesbian lawyers and there are Bar Association for members in each of these categories.”
Unfortunately, her statement that “the Florida Bar does not sanction voluntary bar Associations nor do they regulate them” is untrue. In fact, the Florida Bar has a website listing a few hundred voluntary bar associations and there is even a standing committee on Voluntary Bar Associations, which I didn’t know about when I wrote my previous posts, but I will be contacting them shortly. To present yourself to the public as a “Bar Association” you are giving the impression that you a not for profit organization dedicated to the public good, instead of a for profit business dedicated to making the owner money.
Here are just a small example of genuine voluntary bar associations with links to their webpages, and to the Florida Secretary of State’s website showing that they are non profit corporations:
- Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida — A Florida Non Profit Corporation
- Caribbean Bar Association – A Florida Non Profit Corporation
- Cuban American Bar Association — A Florida Non Profit Corporation
- Central Florida Gay & Lesbian Law Association — A Florida Non Profit Corporation
The difference between each of those voluntary bar associations and the “Jewish American Bar Association” is that each and every one of the legitimate voluntary bar associations is a non-profit entity. That means that no one owns the organization and there is no private inurement to any individual. They serve their members and the public. There already is a non-profit organization in Broward County for Jewish lawyers, the B’nai B’rith Justice Unit.
B’nai Brith was founded in 1843. The “Jewish American Bar Association” was incorporated in 2009.
Legitimate voluntary bar associations serve their members and the public. It’s a shame that they could be tarnished by someone improperly using their good name.