The Orange County Register reports his week that an Irvine attorney was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison on obstruction of justice charges for taking money to help a material witness in a sweeping birth-tourism case leave the country.
The judge’s comments are particularly interesting. He chastised Irvine attorney Ken Zhiyi Liang for failing in his obligation as a lawyer to help clients navigate the complexities of the legal system. “It reflects very poorly on you,” he said. “I consider it a serious offense.”
We could easily file this under, “all attorneys aren’t created equal” and be done with it, but the underlying message is how a business or individual’s choice of attorney can really reflect on them. Dean Sperling had this to say about it.
“The judge in this article, in sentencing this attorney, says the following about the attorney’s conduct: “It reflects very poorly on you,” and “I consider it a serious offense.” This judge is right. When I see articles like this (and the California State Bar reports every month on attorneys who have been disciplined), on the one hand I’m glad that an attorney willing to compromise his morals and violate the law is no longer able to practice law and is being punished for his actions. On the other hand, it unfortunately reinforces the public’s general perception that lawyers will do anything for money. I worked at the State Bar while a student at Loyola Law School and was involved first hand in cases where attorneys crossed far over the line of zealous advocacy. One of the attorneys with whom I interviewed after taking the bar exam made it clear to me that he would do anything, anything to win a case. The implication was, of course, anything notwithstanding if it was legal/moral or not. I obviously wanted nothing to do with him and later did see where it was reported that he was disbarred. Hard-nosed advocacy to resolve or, where required, litigate a matter to judgment is what I believe clients expect and deserve. The clients I have the privilege to represent have high moral character to complement their good business sense. Given that these are traits I believe I have as well, it is a good match.”
And there you have it. Your choice of who represents you or your business in legal matters is an important one. Choose wisely and choose an attorney like Dean Sperling who will work to get your matter resolved with your best interests in mind.
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