Government of the people or government of the plaintiffs attorneys

By The West Virginia Record | Oct 9, 2014

You ever notice how many legislators are lawyers?

Attorneys are the dominant profession in most legislatures, sometimes exceeding the representation of all other occupations combined.

In a way, it makes sense. After all, who's going to be more interested in the law than lawyers? And being a lawyer is no doubt advantageous to someone whose primary focus is drafting legislation and negotiating with colleagues to secure its passage.

Somehow, though, it can seem inappropriate or unfair for lawyers to be lawmakers. For one thing, there are inevitable conflicts of interest, insofar as every proposed piece of legislation is likely to offer professional opportunities for lawyers.

There also is the added concern that a vicious circle can be created when lawyers profiting from favorable legislation use some of their profits to help ensure the election and reelection of lawyer-legislators.

Because the general welfare and the welfare of attorneys do not always coincide and frequently are at odds, continuous vigilance is required to prevent the latter from eclipsing the former.

This conflict is a big concern for West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA).

“Millionaire personal injury lawyers have spent nearly $600,000 on their attempt to maintain control of the lawsuits-not-jobs Legislature,” warns Greg Thomas, WV CALA's executive director. “West Virginia is not for sale, and we will continue to let hardworking West Virginians know which candidates are being bankrolled by personal injury lawyer millionaires.”

WV CALA recently updated its “Dirty Dozen” list, which ranks legislative candidates by the amount of lawsuit industry money their campaigns have received. Every West Virginia voter should know who these twelve candidates are.

Those who think our state would be better off with more legislators who are personal injury attorneys (or beholden to them) will support the Dirty Dozen.

Those who think our legislature has more than enough lawyers already, and that our state could benefit from a more friendly business climate, will not.

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