One Lawyer Gives Back By Helping Those More Fortunate Than Himself

NEEDHAM, Mass.  It’s Thursday night in this mixed-income suburb of Boston, and the sight of cars lining a quiet residential street indicates to a casual observer that there’s a cocktail party in progress in one of the town’s newer, more upscale homes.  “That’s where the need is greatest,” says lawyer Bob Pliateck, as he takes care to make sure he has enough business cards in the breast pocket of his plaid sport coat.  “A lot of guys will do their pro bono work in the cool comfort of their air-conditioned offices, but not me.  I ‘take it to the streets,'” he says, making air quotes to indicate that he is using hip, youthful slang.


Nicest house on the street.

Once he’s been greeted by the hostess at the door, he begins to circulate among the guests, who are resplendent in colorful outfits that only a week before would have been viewed as “rushing the season” of spring, which in New England generally lasts only a day or two before giving way to summer.  “I do most of my pro bono work at cocktail parties,” Pliateck says with a grim shake of his head at the array of potential problems he’s likely to encounter tonight.  “The unmet legal needs here–house closings, estate plans–are so overwhelming it’s really a scandal the way the legal profession turns a blind eye to the problems of the upper middle class.”

Under a Massachusetts rule, lawyers in this state must provide twenty-five hours of legal aid annually to people of limited means, or pay a fee ranging from $250 to 1% of their annual taxable income to organizations that provide such services.  “I could just write the check,” Pliateck says.  “But that would be the easy, more expensive way out.”


“Don’t turn around–here comes that guy Pliateck.”

 

So the sole practitioner walks the mean streets of leafy-green suburbs like this, looking for those more fortunate than himself who nonetheless, in traditional cheap Yankee style, refuse to pay high hourly rates for downtown Boston lawyers.  “It’s my calling, the way Mother Teresa ministered to the lepers in Calcutta,” he says of his selfish quest for billable hours.


“A thousand dollars for a simple estate plan?  You can go shit in your hat, pal.”

 

Bar officials say Pliateck’s quixotic pursuit of the slightly over-privileged puts him in compliance with the mandatory public service requirement, but just barely.  “Perhaps we should re-word the Rule,” says bar counsel Everett Winthrop III.   “Technically everybody south of the Bill Gates-Warren Buffett level is ‘of limited means,’ but Bob’s a lawyer–he saw a loophole and drove right through it.”


*Boring lawyer.  Must  . . . stifle . . . yawn*

 

Pliateck has heard the complaint before, but says he will not be deterred by small-minded critics who he suspects are simply envious of the way he “does well by doing good.”  “It’s sour grapes,” he says.  “Those guys are just jealous they didn’t come up with the idea first.”

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “One Lawyer Gives Back By Helping Those More Fortunate Than Himself

  1. Somewhere in that place “over there,” Mother Teresa is saying, “He took the words right out of my mouth!” (I’m looking forward to meeting you in that other place “over there,” Con. I already know that once I go, my kids will say, “My mother darns blogs in hell.”)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s