Upon reflecting on the bar’s routine abuse of my constitutional rights to freedom of speech and association, and the establishment a few years back of the thought police to monitor campaign speech, I always answer, “No.”
But on deeper reflection, I’ve decided to say one nice thing about the bar: My Westlaw costs less than it used to.
What does that have to do with the bar? It’s simple economics, although I can’t exactly quantify how much less my Westlaw costs thanks to the bar.
To begin, I should explain that back in the day I always paid less for Westlaw than most attorneys because I had a really good relationship with the old Westlaw rep.
I let her hang around with me at cocktail parties and things. Since I know everybody in town, it enabled her to meet lots of prospective clients without appearing to be a pushy saleswoman.
I also operated like a walking billboard for her. Remember the slogan, “If you don’t have unlimited access to Westlaw, you’re not practicing law; you’re just taking up space in the courtroom”? That was not the work of some slick Madison Avenue mad men. I wrote that. I was good for her business.
Still, even with all that going for me, Westlaw was not cheap.
But then, the State Bar decided to give all its members free access to Fastcase. Obviously, you can’t do serious litigation with just Fastcase and no Westlaw. But if the only time you go into court is when your deadbeat brother-in-law gets into trouble, it’s good enough.
However, my brother-in-law is not a deadbeat and he doesn’t need me to get him out of trouble. I actually like my brother-in-law. In addition, I’m in court all the time and require unlimited Westlaw.
So, free Fastcase notwithstanding, when people ask what the bar does for me, the answer is still “nothing.” Given a choice to resign, I would personally drive to Madison and nail my resignation letter to their door, a la Martin Luther.
Nevertheless, I’m sure I pay less for Westlaw than I would if the bar didn’t provide unlimited free access to Fastcase, even if it is of no use to me. And for that, I am grateful.