News or Views?

BY ELI MASON

The special report “ABA Gives Thumbs Down to Lawyers’ Fee-Sharing,” ( JofA, Sept.00, page 22) purports to be a news item, but in my opinion the editorial intent of the article cannot be mistaken.

The House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, which may be referred to as the AICPA of the legal profession, voted 316 to 105 in favor of a resolution against multidisciplinary practices (MDPs).

The article quotes Gary T. Johnson, an ABA delegate from Illinois, who expressed his opinion opposing MDPs.

Surprisingly, it also quotes Jeffrey Peck, managing director of Arthur Andersen’s office of government affairs in Washington, D.C., who extensively berates the ABA for its decision opposing MDPs. The article might also have reported that the largest law firm in England is Arthur Andersen.

To add to the non-objectivity of the report is a quote from Richard Miller, secretary and general counsel of the AICPA: “I find it unfortunate that the ABA failed to demonstrate any leadership on the MDP issue.” Would the AICPA look favorably on the ABA’s or any other national organization’s criticism of a resolution by the Institute’s governing body?

I believe one can only conclude that the article, written by a JofA editor, was intended to represent a viewpoint rather than a news item. Although I have an open mind on the MDP issue, I believe the national organization of lawyers has more valid jurisdiction on matters affecting attorneys than does a national association of CPAs.

Eli Mason, CPA
New York City

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