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Re Jon Weisman's comments on the LAT's description of Allison Margolin's court clothes: I have to say, I was immediately struck by her neckline, too. Judges have some discretion re what they'll tolerate from their lawyers in dress and speech; in some courts, that extreme décolletage could have gotten Margolin sent home. Weisman notes that Ally McBeal was on the cover of time (for, among other things, her micro-minis), but let's remember: Ally McBeal was a TELEVISION SHOW. Margolin is showing up in a real court in the real world. Her dress shouldn't distract from her task at hand. Dressing properly for court shows respect first and foremost for the institution, then for the institution's representatives (the judge, jury, etc.) Showing up dressed like a lawyer, not like Pam Anderson, is a good idea, just in case the court is way more conservative than you or your client are.
Karen Grigsby Bates
Day to Day, NPR News
In your writing about me yesterday, you said I had no major legal triumphs. The truth is, I have. For example, last week, I got a 500-plant case dismissed, and I've won several other medical marijuana cases before even the preliminary hearing.
I also have won a misdemeanor molestation case, etc. Also, I have been accepted to the 9th circuit on a case, USA v. Landa. You can email me for more info.
So, I do think I've had a lot of success and have made a mark, though the LA Times writer didn't get into all that.
With regards to Karen Grigsby Bates' comments amount Allison Margolin's neckline: Grigsby Bates writes, "Showing up dressed like a lawyer, not like Pam Anderson, is a good idea, just in case the court is way more conservative than you or your client are." Grigsby Bates is assuming, without warrant, that Margolin wouldn't know what clothing is appropriate in different courts. She claims that, "in some courts, that extreme décolletage could have gotten Margolin sent home," which is certainly true. But it does not follow that Margolin was lucky to have been arguing a case before a judge who would allow it, which Grigsby Bates implies. It seems that Grigsby Bates believes that any woman who shows some cleavage isn't capable of discerning what will be acceptable attire in different professional contexts.
I have no idea how effective Ms. Margolin is in litigation, but I do know that her list of "major legal triumphs" does nothing to support her argument:
1. Getting a case dismissed - happens all the time. Could be as simple as a small defect in the pleadings by the opposing party. I had "cases dismissed" at my law firm within weeks of being hired. Any young lawyer will tell you the same.
2. "Won" cases before "even" the preliminary hearing - any cases that are "won" before a preliminary hearing are either settled amicably or so utterly frivolous that any competent lawyer should win - to "win" without even a hearing on the issue would require incompetent lawyering on a party's part. If Ms. Margolin is not actually referring to a true "preliminary hearing," such as a routine scheduling conference, but instead a hearing for judgment on the pleadings, see above - even brand new lawyers can put this on their resume.
3. Won a misdemeanor molestation case - this one almost speaks for itself. Sound high-profile to you? Ms. Margolin shares this kind of accomplishment with every wet-behind-the-ears prosecutor or public defender in every town in this nation.
4. "Accepted" to the 9th Circuit on a case - pretty tough. I can nevertheless muster the names of a few other lawyers that are "accepted" to the 9th Circuit, the federal appellate court for the western states: virtually all lawyers in California with a couple of years experience. And anyone can be admitted to the 9th Circuit that wishes to be. All new attorneys in the country can swear themselves into the 9th Circuit bar without a case or client to their name. All they need do is fill out one form and have one member sponsor them. Since every federal case in the western states can be appealed to the 9th Circuit, most lawyers in California become members of the 9th Circuit bar within their first few years. Now if Ms. Margolin received an appointment from the President and became "accepted" as a 9th Circuit judge, that would be something.
Perhaps Ms. Margolin has had "a lot of success" and "made her mark"; but if so, she certainly did not achieve success via the accomplishments offered.
I should note that I have no personal animus towards Ms. Margolin and have never dealt with her in any matter. Indeed, she seems like an interesting and well-educated lawyer worthy of some attention. I nevertheless think it important, as an ethical matter, for potential clients of Ms. Margolin to be aware of this information.
Love your site (and its new features),
Brian R. Downing
Leave it to the LA Times to reinvent the “puff” piece.
Pacific Palisades, CA