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COURT-APPOINTED RATES: INDIGENT OR JUST INDIGNANT?

Burger King wage or top dollar?

If you care about the serious, ongoing debate over pay scales for court-appointed public defenders, you should surf the blogosphere.

Yesterday, as you may recall, I mentioned Carolyn Elefant's advice that solo and small-firm attorneys should not try to make a living exclusively on court-appointed work. Elefant even does the math on the average attorney's cost-o-shingle to drive home her point that one needs a diversified practice to pay ze bills.

Elefant's news peg on MyShingle.com was blogger David Giacalone's comments on an ongoing controversy between Massachusetts courts and public defenders, who've been trying to get their pay range of $30 to $54 an hour raised to $60 to $120 an hour.

The chutzpah!

This morning, Crime & Federalism's Michael Cernovich made it clear he wasn't impressed by the commonwealth's  public defenders -- neither their math nor their brief. Here's a teaser to his extensive post:

I'm sure that my readers would love making the kind of money the Massachusetts lawyers scoffed at ... Instead, the complaining lawyers make their money off tax dollars.  But these court-appointed lawyers want to earn, vis-a-vis tax dollars, more money than all but 90 percent of taxpayers.  Finally I understand chutzpah.

Then -- this is why I love blogging and respect Cernovich -- he offered up his blog as a forum to a representative of Massachusetts attorneys who disagreed. "Folks, I want to be on your side," he wrote. "Just give me a reason."

Attorney Deborah Sirotkin Butler was happy to oblige. She sent an e-mail to Cernovich, who promptly posted "The other side of the Massachusetts story." She takes serious issue with Cernovich's post and says she nets only $240 to $400 per week after her expenses. "There is no benefit to continuing, no reward for good work or experience, no possible raise ever, and no punishment for poor work," she writes, and she attaches the written testimony she supplied to the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee.

Now Legal Blog Watch wants to know: Solos, whose advice will you take?Elefant's? Cernovich's? Guest-blogger Sirotkin Butler's? Her son's friend, who says he does better at Burger King? None of the above? You can post your comments on Crime & Federalism or MyShingle.com, or e-mail me and I'll post your responses.

Posted by Product Team on December 1, 2004 at 12:52 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

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