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Varmints at the Podium!

The heat wave toward the end of last month brought forth grumbles from Lawrence J. Fox, keynote speaker for the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Conference July 21 in Richmond.

Fox, who lives in Philadelphia and serves on the American Bar Association’s Ethics 2000 committee, speculated that his Virginia appearance marks a downturn in his career. A year before he was speaking to the bar in much-cooler Maine. “I think maybe next year I’m heading to Houston,” he said sarcastically.

He then launched into the subject of the ABA’s current revision of the ethical code. “There’s no truth to the rumor that Ethics 2000 was put together because Virginia was finally adopting the Model Rules,” he said.

After one too many of these unkind cuts from Fox, at least one attendee was overheard muttering, “Where the hell did we get this [guy]?” Perhaps the more appropriate question might have been: Just how much did the VSB pay him to speak?

Denny Dohnal, whose relentless energies got the 48 Model Rules of Professional Conduct passed by the VSB Council after years of effort, succeeded Fox at the podium, with phasers on kill.

“It seems we keep on inviting these ABA types, wherever they come from,” during Virginia’s weather extremes, Dohnal said. “We either freeze them or roast them out. Then they arrive and they insult us.”

People from elsewhere just don’t understand the deliberation required to effect change in Virginia, he said. Virginians take their time and do it right, he contended.

He then proposed a 49th Model Rule: “Heretofore, no representative of the organization which shall not be named will be invited south of the Mason-Dixon line without a majority vote.”

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