Saturday, September 08, 2007

Listen to Dave Ramsey? I Won't Represent You!

I am seriously thinking about adding a very pointed question at the beginning of my intake interview for new clients, “Do you listen to Dave Ramsey?” If the answer is yes, the interview is over and the folks can either find another attorney or call Dave Ramsey for their legal advice.

Dave Ramsey is a nationally syndicated, Christian crossover, talk show host. His financial advice is usually sound. His business advice is sometimes questionable, particularly on quasi-legal regulatory and business organizational matters. But, his legal advice, and he does give pure legal advice on a regular basis, is often just plain misinformed.

I just heard a caller complaining because a probate matter had been dragging out. The caller was upset that they were going to have to go to mediation over what the caller and Ramsey both judged to be a simple matter. Never mind the fact that the other side had no input in the conversation. Never mind the fact that probate matters ALWAYS drag out. Ramsey just pronounced the caller’s current attorney a “bad lawyer” and advised the caller to fire his lawyer and find one who would “kick butt” and get the matter over with.

I didn't hear Ramsey ask whether or not that court required mandatory mediation. I didn't hear Ramsey ask if the judge ordered the mediation. I didn't hear Ramsey ask if the other side's disputed claims had been granted at least minimal due process. As a matter of fact, I didn't hear Ramsey ask where the judge was on the subject at all. Some judges will not grant a dispository motion. As a matter of fact some whole states, Oklahoma for example, officially frown upon dispository motions. What Ramsey did do was feed his audience some red meat … in this case a probate lawyer who is probably just trying to do his job with what sounded like a difficult case and a whiny client who listens to too much talk radio.

Dave Ramsey is not an attorney. He is a radio personality. An entertainer. Dave Ramsey has never spent a day in probate court as an attorney. He is not subject to the professional discipline of a probate judge, a bar association or any state or federal court system. If he were, he would learn very quickly to temper his comments and not judge matters before their time. But, it is much easier (and better entertainment) to take cheap shots at attorneys when you have no legal education, don’t know all of the facts, and face no professional consequences for making mistakes that may ruin client’s case.

These days, one of the most quoted lines from Shakespeare is,"First, let's kill all the lawyers." The pity is that the people using this quote don't know enough about its context to realize that it is an illustration of the danger of uneducated rabble rousers using mob sentiment to pervert justice. Might be a lesson in there for Dave and the mob of his listeners.

I would bet you dollars to doughnuts that Dave Ramsey has a team of lawyers handling his own legal affairs. But, he has never had a problem advising his listeners to do their own legal work and practicing law without a license for others on his radio program. Now, he is advising his listeners to fire their attorneys. One of these days, Ramsey is going to get nailed by a state bar association for practicing law without a license. Sadly, he deserves it. The pity is it the complaint will probably originate from a Christian radio station that aired his program.


Blogger Paul Tay said...

Yep. Major UPL bait. Fo' shure!

7:23 PM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

Mr. Ramsey is now ending his program with a disclaimer that all situations are unique and fact specific and the listener should consult a qualified professional with their problems. Sounds good so far despite the fact that he is still practicing law without a license. But, that disclaimer is frequently then followed by a commercial for home brew legal forms and the worksheets to fill them out ALL IN RAMSEY's VOICE. It makes the previous disclaimer totally disingenuous. Perhaps, in the interest of fairness, Mr. Ramsey should disclose his financial interest in these self help legal forms companies if any, the amount that they pay to sponsor his program and the amount of commission he receives, if any, on sales referrals from his program.

6:15 AM  

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