On Tuesday, August 30, 2011, the North Carolina State Bar Ethics Committee issued the following opinion -
Opinion rules that a lawyer may not allow a person who is not employed by or affiliated with the lawyer’s firm to use firm letterhead.
By further definition - Rule 8.4(c). A recipient of a letter on a law firm’s letterhead assumes that the letter was written by a firm lawyer or by an employee or affiliate of the firm who is acting under the authority, supervision, and control of a firm lawyer. If a person who is not employed or formally affiliated with the firm sends a letter on firm letterhead, it creates the false impression that the person has the authority to act on behalf of the law firm and is being supervised by a firm lawyer. In the worst case, the recipient may falsely assume that the sender is a lawyer with the firm. A lawyer may not participate actively or passively in this deception. If a lawyer learns that someone who is not employed or affiliated with the firm is using firm letterhead to write to third parties, the lawyer must take steps to stop the misuse of the letterhead.
Really? The lawyers practicing in North Carolina needed to be told this? Just where did these people go to law school? Everyone I know past the age of 18 has some type of letterhead. For most, it is their checkbook. Yes, that is the shortest form of letterhead commonly found in our society. It has your name, personal information, date, signature, and a demand note addressed to the bank. It is a letterhead telling the bank to transfer funds from one account to another or convert funds to cash. A third grader knows not to give his/her neighborhood friends Daddy's blank checks so they can all fill them out and run to the candy store. Furthermore, an attorney's letterhead is like a doctor's prescription pad. I don't think anyone has ever heard a doctor saying ... "Here ... take a couple of these prescription pads ... if your back hurts ... just write yourself a note to your boss ... oh and here is some stationary in case you need something more official". Yet the North Carolina State Bar Ethics Committee felt it necessary to publish an opinion stating the more than obvious to the state's practicing attorneys.
The translation is - the act of letting an outsider use your letterhead is not only stupid, it is so stupid ... that if you get caught doing it ... you will be sanctioned, punished, and possibly disbarred.
Hmmmm .... is that the real translation???
I mean come on ... do you think anyone really came to an "Ethics" meeting ... and said - "Hey ya'll, I got a good idea ... How 'bout we don't share letterhead with people we don't know or those who do not work for us?
OR ... did some high ranking member of the "Good Ole Boys Club" get caught?
Was letterhead used by a mistress or lover? Was letterhead used by an embarrassing club, association, political, or activist group? Was (or is) someone about to be exposed? Think about it ... the North Carolina State Bar issues an opinion and any potential "prior" culprit who is a high ranking member of the "Good Ole Boys Club" is now off the hook. After all, when confronted or if (or when) it becomes public ... it happened before the opinion was published. "If the glove doesn't fit ... you have to acquit".
Of course, if it had been a low ranking, sole practitioner who passed out his/her stationary, I suspect the consequences would have been much different. Sanctions at the very least. Public humiliation and possible fines. If that attorney was already blacklisted by the "Good Ole Boys Club" they might even be disbarred.
Now, take it to the next level. Consider the common citizen. Sure sounds, to me, like forgery, deception, or fraud (punishable crimes). I'm not an attorney, nor am I trying to pretend to be one. But I am a smart enough individual to see, not only a double standard ... but a triple standard exists. Was this new opinion borne from some kind of a cover up scheme or perhaps from a much needed emergency damage control plan?
From my experiences and observations, the "Good Ole Boys" get their dirty laundry swept under the filth ridden carpets of the North Carolina State Bar.
The "other" attorneys have a secret hearing rather than a public trial. The common citizen is forced to have a trial in a public courtroom while fleecing attorneys take their money. If you are pro se, your chances of a positive outcome are slim. This is the North Carolina "Justice" system in a nutshell. Some State Bars have an Open Policy. Every document (and e-mail) in ... and every document (and e-mail) out of the State Bar is public information. Rather difficult to have a "Good Ole Boys Club" when everything is exposed. (Isn't this really why North Carolina has a closed system?) This is exactly why drastic changes are needed. It is time to throw out those filthy, stained carpets at the North Carolina State Bar (and those that utilize them).
In other words ... it is time to clean house ... from Top to Bottom!
It is a public duty to expose these "Violators of Decency" to make sure they do NOT become (or get re-elected) as Judges, Politicians, Board members, members of public interest committees, or participate in ANY steering committee of ANY kind.
That's my opinion,
Gary G. Gleason
Legal Justice Corporation
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