Malcolm Weintraub oral history, 1991

Focuses on his role as a board member of Legal Services of Northern California during 1960-1967.

Oral history details

Storyteller: Malcolm Weintraub
Interviewer: Geminiani, Victor
Date of interview: Aug 6, 1991
Where relates to: California
Topics: Civil legal aid: General
Law type: Civil
Collection: NEJL
Georgetown Law Library link (possible video):
Length: 0:43:01

Full text of transcript

Download PDF: Transcript

Georgetown University Law Center National Equal Justice Library
Oral History Collection
Interview with Malcolm Weintraub By Victor Geminiani
Transcribed by: Carilyn Cipolla, NCRF
Interview date: August 16, 1991

Victor Geminiani: This is the oral history of Malcolm Weintraub. The subject of the interview will be Mr. Weintraub’s involvement with the Board of Directors and as president of the Legal Aid Society of California, which is presently known as Legal Aid Services of Northern California. The interviewer is Victor Geminiani. I want to thank you very much, Mr. Weintraub, for making your time available to us and sharing with us the critical contributions you made to legal aid in northern California.

Malcolm Weintraub: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Victor Geminiani: Can you tell me a little bit about your background prior to becoming involved with legal aid in northern California?

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, I started with legal aid in California in Sacramento in about 1956 or early ’57. I had returned to Sacramento to start my career as a lawyer in the fall of ’56 having been raised here in Sacramento. I went to school — high school here, junior high school, grammar school, the whole works. Then I went away to college. And after law school, I was drafted into the army during — or just after Korea. And then came back to Sacramento in the fall of ’56. I got a job here with Downey Brand Seymour & Rohwer then probably one of the largest firms in town, about seven or eight lawyers. And started out as a young lawyer there. The young lawyers in that firm at the time — and I think there were probably three or four of us — were encouraged by Jack Downey, particularly, to become involved with legal aid. That was a very important thing for him. He was the daddy of legal aid in Sacramento. And so, he encouraged all of us to sign up. And this was just about the time Legal Aid Society was started. So he encouraged us to sign up as panelists on the lawyer’s panel to furnish legal services to the clients of the Legal Aid Society.

That’s how my career with legal aid in Sacramento started. And I think I served as a volunteer panel member for about four or five years. Then in 19 — around sometime in 1960, I was elected to the board of the Legal Aid Society and served there for a 3-year term. Then there was a hiatus of about a year when I was off the board. I came back on the board in ’64 and served on the board till ’67.

Victor Geminiani: Can you tell me, if you can recall, the pitch that Jack Downey used with you as a young lawyer in his firm to become involved in pro bono efforts?

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, I think it’s the same pitch that a lot of us lawyers in private law make to young lawyers who are in the law firms today. And that is that essentially we have a responsibility to provide legal services to people who can’t afford to pay for it. And this is the fashion in which we should do it. In an organized form where it does the most good. And I think that was the pitch, and it was a very successful one. It was very worthwhile. And it was a great — a great place to learn to be a lawyer. Because you learned a lot of things about lawyering that you never learned if you were working for a private firm — the kinds of cases you handled, the people you met — and it was a remarkable experience.

Victor Geminiani: You mentioned that you first became involved through Mr. Downey’s efforts with the lawyer pro bono panel that was run in conjunction with the Legal Aid Society of Sacramento County. Do you have any idea how large that panel was or what kind of work that they did?

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, my recollection was that they were about maybe 70, 80, maybe 100 lawyers. We furnished services on a — on a regular basis. I think we were called perhaps every couple of months or every three months to serve a half a day in the office usually in the afternoon. And there were clients who came into the office. They were first screened by the executive director who was a non-lawyer.

Victor Geminiani: Dorothy Littlefield?

Malcolm Weintraub: Dorothy Littlefield. And then, after that screening process — and she made a few notes on a little form as I remember — then the client came into the office of the lawyer, and we sat with the client, looked at the form, interviewed the client, gave some advice, and then the client left. Maybe at times we’d make telephone calls on behalf of the client. If it was a continuing matter that we couldn’t conclude within the period of time that the person was there or during our stay that afternoon, it was then carried over to John Carson, who was the permanent part- time lawyer working for the society. And he would finish up on the matter if it involved litigation or a follow-up letter or follow-up telephone conversation or anything of that sort, then he would finish up. Ours was really a kind of — a short- lived thing. We saw the client — we never saw the client again to speak of. I don’t know whether we ever had repeat business, but this — that was what we did. And lots of times a phone call would do a lot of good. If a lawyer was in the picture, somebody who was beating on a person who didn’t have knowledge, sophistication, available funds — if a lawyer made a phone call, that could get that person off the back of this client. And it worked. A lot of times it was very frustrating, because there’s nothing very much you could do. There were a lot of tenant disputes. There were a lot of divorce stuff. There’s a lot of small credit matters. That’s the way it was, and that’s — but that was the sum and substance of a lot of people’s lives. And they’re the same today.

Victor Geminiani: It’s the same today, I can guarantee you.

Malcolm Weintraub: Same problems — just the numbers are increased, that’s all.

Victor Geminiani: Can you tell me if you remember any particular issues that the board grappled with in the early part of your involvement in the early 60’s with the Legal Aid Society of Sacramento County?

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, one of the ones that I do remember was one that I was involved in fairly substantially. That is, budgeting. Where did we get the money? We never seemed to have enough money, and that was incredibly difficult to deal with. We were a united crusade or United Way agency. I would expect 90% of our funding came from United Way. Each year we had to present a budget, and we had to look at a projection with United Way. We had to go before their budget panels and ask for money. We were basically groveling for money always. I remember one incident that was pathetic. We occupied space in a building in downtown Sacramento, the old Ochsner Building.

Victor Geminiani: Still stands today.

Malcolm Weintraub: Still stands today under a different name. It’s — we had a small office. We had an -we had a waiting room, an office for Dorothy Littlefield, and an office for the lawyer. And the lawyer in the morning was John, as I said; in the afternoon it was various volunteers. I remember once going before the United Way budget panel. And, of course, they had limited funds, and I can understand their position. But this particular day kind of got to me. And it typifies, it seems to me, what sort of attitudes were at the time. We were having a very difficult time in keeping the place up. The landlord didn’t — didn’t keep it up very well, didn’t maintain it. It was hardly a law office that one would like to welcome clients in, but that was what we had money to spend. That’s what we could afford. So I made a comment before this budget panel, a few people who were there to decide how much should be awarded to this particular agency. You know, the United Crusade agency. In this case, Legal Aid Society. And I made a point that we needed a few extra bucks this year because we had to paint the office, because it was falling apart and there was paint peeling from the ceiling and falling on the lawyer and his client. I said that wasn’t a very — it wasn’t a really, a very good way to deal with a client who had a real legal problem. And I was passionate in my discussion. One of the panel members turned to the other or then turned to me and said, “Well, you shouldn’t paint it. After all, that’s a landlord’s responsibility. And so, if you paint it, that will mean that the landlord gets off the hook.” And I thought to myself, “Wow, that is one hell of a way to handle something. Just because you want to teach the landlord a lesson, that means you shouldn’t give us the $20 for some paint to paint the walls and the ceiling.” So, in answer to your question about the – some of the issues — the money issue was always there. We spent more time and more effort on the board being concerned about our budget and how we were going to get enough money to operate. We never did. We’d always go to United Crusade, hat in hand, begging for the money, and then they would give us less than what we asked for. We’d come back. We’d pare back our own budget and some way we would make it go till the next year. That was a big issue.

Victor Geminiani: I don’t think the issues have changed much.

Malcolm Weintraub: They haven’t changed much at all.

Victor Geminiani: Can you tell me approximately what the budget from United Way may have been?

Malcolm Weintraub: Between 15 and $20,000 a year.

Victor Geminiani: And that was representative of about 90% of your funding of the program?

Malcolm Weintraub: Yep. Yep. I think our overall budget — and I can’t remember this exactly, but — in any given year, I think, maybe max would be $22,000 to run the whole operation. Nobody was paid very much at all. I think Dorothy — I think she got maybe $450, $500 a month. We had a part-time secretary. That was another person we had. John Carson — I think his salary at that time was maybe 5, $600 a month for part- time. It wasn’t very much.

Victor Geminiani: Any personalities stick out in your mind as you think back on those early days of board involvement?

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, yeah. The — I think the ones that stick out in my mind — Dorothy Littlefield. She was not on the board, but she was the staff person who was really in charge. And I’d give her as much credit as anybody else to persevering through these hard times. She kept on with it. She wasn’t a lawyer, but she understood lawyers very well. She was very kindly, but she was firm. And I think she was very important to the whole program. People on the board, Bruce Allen was a president in one of those early years. Forest Plant as well. Catherine Bido was a president later on. I remember her very well. There was a — a secretary who worked part-time, Olivia Iniguez, who I remember very well, who was the most cheerful person given the time that she was working there. She worked part-time. The working conditions were not very nice. I’m not trying to make this sound terribly dismal, because it wasn’t really. It was furnishing a marvelous service to people who needed the service. It was just that it wasn’t under very ideal conditions. That all changed later. Not that everything was ideal, but we didn’t have to worry so much about pencils and pads. Other people who were involved – well, John. Did I mention John Carson? He was very important in those years as well, because he started this — basically started the program. He was the first lawyer hired by the program when it started in ’56, ’57. And so, his was an important role.

Victor Geminiani: He later became president of the board of the Legal Aid Society of Sacramento County —

Malcolm Weintraub: Right.

Victor Geminiani: — and preceded you.

Malcolm Weintraub: He preceded me.

Victor Geminiani: He served in ’65, ’66. You served in ’66, ’67. Can you tell me a little about how you became the president of the program?

Malcolm Weintraub: I was thinking back about that, and I wondered why there was a gap between my years of service on the board. And I don’t really know why. They must have dropped me for a while and then called me back on. But I did have that — 1960 through 1963, and then there was a one-year gap, and then 1964 through 1967.

And, as I think back about it, I guess I was one of the older members of the board at the time. And — older in terms of service, because I was in my mid 30’s at that time. Anyway, and then in 1966, I became the president of the board. It was a good board. It was — it was a very difficult time. It was a very wonderful time at the same — at the same time. This was the mid 60’s. And I don’t think — I don’t think the 60’s passed anybody by. I don’t think that anyone — certainly anyone I know, and certainly I can say this for myself — was not touched by the times of the 60’s. A remarkable time in our history, never had it before, never had it since, and I’m sure that — I’m not — I know that I’m not the first one to say something about that. But here, even in Sacramento, away from the — the areas of riots and away from the problems of the South and the civil rights, the 60’s still touched us. I don’t want to get into things politic, but the whole Great Society of Johnson affected us directly and that direct effect came in the case of the Legal Aid Society through the — through the OEO funding.

And all of a sudden one day — and I don’t know how it came about — it may — if I researched it, I probably will find out, and you probably will know, but my recollection is — without having done any reading back as to those times and correspondence that might have passed between us and the society and others — my recollection is that all of a sudden there was a possibility of doing some real good with this Legal Aid Society. And changing from what might be considered a mama papa operation with one part- time permanent lawyer, who was then Hermann Lorenz, another practitioner here in Sacramento — changing from that and a non-lawyer executive director into something that could really provide a lot of service to a lot of clients and go far beyond what we were doing and had been doing for ten years. All of a sudden that realization occurred, and then we — we must move forward. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t see that there was anything but to take advantage of the opportunity of doing that — that OEO program through the — through CAP, Communication Action Program, because that’s what the legal aid — legal aid program, legal services program under OEO was, was a community action program. There was a fellow, who I remember being very involved in it — Marion Woods. And I’m not sure, and I can’t recall exactly what his position was, but I think it was having to do with the local Sacramento community action program.

And it was with — through him that we dealt in applying for the funds from OEO to establish a much broader legal services program here. We — we considered that at the board level. I think there were persons who may have had reservations about proceeding, but I think by and large — and as we can see, because it was instituted — by and large the overwhelming majority of the board, the preponderance of the persons on the board, were in favor of moving forward. We were — we made the application. We did what was necessary. We met with people from Washington, D.C. who came out here and visited us. We did everything that was necessary to be done in the application, and we received a grant. And all of a sudden — all of a sudden, Victor, we were — we were flush.

We were — we went from a budget of, as I indicated, about low 20,000’s to over $100,000 that I think the first year’s budget was something in the neighborhood of 105 to $110,000. That enabled us to do all sorts of things. One thing that — that, of course, we had to do was provide something ourselves — we had to provide.

We had to provide funds or their equivalents. And what we did provide was in- kind contributions through the continuation of the lawyers volunteer panel. That panel had continued throughout. I refer to that panel. That’s how I got started on this whole program, being a volunteer lawyer. Well, that volunteer lawyer program continued through the local bar association, through volunteer lawyers who were practicing law at one point or another here in Sacramento — had continued for that 10-year period. Then, the panel continued — the in-kind contribution was largely met — the requirement for that contribution was largely met through the services of the volunteer lawyers who continued to serve with the legal services program, as it then sort of became known rather than Legal Aid Society, though I think the name remained the same for some time — while being funded by OEO. Similarly, the — the funding through the United Way continued alongside the OEO monies. And that was a, I think, a very positive thing as well. Because it really kept the Sacramento community involved in this project. The legal community, by furnishing services, contributing some funds through — I want to say ‘kickback’, but I can say ‘referral feedback’ from the lawyer’s reference service, which is another thing that lawyers were involved with for quite — for the entire program at the Legal Aid Society. I think those grew out of the Sacramento County Bar Association on a parallel basis from early on. But that was very important. It wasn’t a program, therefore, as maybe some persons feared that it was a Washington, D.C. program. It wasn’t a federal program as far as I know.

And, of course, my knowledge of the — of the inner workings of the Legal Aid Society after 1967 — my knowledge is pretty skimpy, because I wasn’t on the board — I wasn’t directly involved, though I knew lots of people who were. But still my sense is that this program was considered to be a Sacramento program, a community program, not a federal program. Though the funds largely came from the federal government, we ran the program.

Victor Geminiani: You’ll be happy to know that until today we still receive United Way funding. It has gone from 20,000 in 1965 up to, I think, 40,000 in 1991 —

Malcolm Weintraub: Wow, you’re doing very well.

Victor Geminiani: — but it’s still there and a core part of our delivery of services in Sacramento County. Can you tell me if there were, prior to the application process, any debate among the board members or with the bar association as to whether, in fact, the program ought to go after, solicit federal funding from the war on poverty programs?

Malcolm Weintraub: Once again I think — I don’t know specifically, don’t recall specifically, but my recollection was that there was. There would be — and I made, I think, somewhat some veiled reference to this a minute ago — and I said that I thought that there were probably persons on the board who were not inclined to this process, because they looked to the federal government as taking over everything and running the show, and there was a — probably some, some, some strong debate on that subject. I can’t recall any specifics about somebody getting up, for example, at a meeting and hollering and yelling at another board member saying, “No, we shouldn’t do this, because they’ll take us — take over. And it’ll all be a communist plot,” and all that stuff. I can’t remember anything like that happening. I do remember some — some disagreements about how we should go about doing it. And — and yet, I’m — I think that it was — it was — it was well-accepted even by those who might have objected to it. The — it wasn’t — the war on poverty program was not an ogre. It wasn’t a demon. It wasn’t a disaster. It wasn’t anything — at least at my level, it wasn’t anything but an ability to furnish better, more legal services to people that needed it. And that’s the way we perceived it. That’s the way I perceived it.

That’s the way we tried to administer it. And that’s — I think that’s what happened. And I think it was successful. I mean, you’re here. You’re the boss now. It’s still going on. And that’s many years later.

Victor Geminiani: How did you grow from 20,000 to 100,000 in a year? There must be some stories that you remember from that tremendous growth.

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, that’s — we put on lawyers. We had permanent lawyers, which we never had before — full-time. Not only part-time, but full-time. Program was then run by a lawyer — executive director. Clarence Brown was our first executive director. A program of legal services should be administered at the top by a lawyer. Sounding terribly provincial, but lawyers should run legal programs. Who knows better how to run a legal program than a lawyer? So that’s what we had. Now, you have to
pay a lawyer much more than you have to pay executive director, Dorothy Littlefield. We also changed the John Carson, Herman Lorenz, permanent part- time, 8:00 to 12:00, five-days-a-week lawyer, to a regular full-time lawyer serving the whole day. That didn’t necessarily eliminate — and we didn’t want it to eliminate — the volunteer program, and the volunteer program continued. But, if there was a person — for example, upon screening a client coming in — that would have a problem that couldn’t be handled by a person who was there for the half a day, that person would see the — the full-time lawyer. So we went from 20 to $100,000 very easily by putting on additional lawyers. Also staff. I think we had a permanent secretary then — the full-time secretary — June Reeves, I think, was the first one there. We also opened two offices outside the downtown office.

Terribly important to put the offices where the people are. And we had an office in Oak Park. As I remember, that was near McGeorge Law School. And we had an office in Del Paso Heights. Terribly important at the time, because those were the two very heavily stricken poverty areas in the Sacramento community. And I would hope that the work we did helped a little bit in those — in those communities. So that’s how we spent the money. We also — I think this was after my term on the board — we moved the downtown office from its location in the old Ochsner Building to another location, which was in the Washington neighborhood area. And I think that’s — it was around 15th and C or 15th and D Streets, which again, would locate the office in a more sensitive area to the persons that needed the services. The — did I talk about — I think I’ll talk a little bit about the lawyer reference service in terms of how that thing developed with the Legal Aid Society, and that pro bono attitude on the part of the Sacramento lawyers. The Sacramento Bar Association through all of that — through the early days when we had no OEO funding in the early 60’s, and then again in the later times when we were in the — with the war on poverty program. The Sacramento County Bar Association was — was always very active in supporting this particular part of the whole Sacramento legal community. In part, I think, that was because that’s what the bar associated wanted to do. And in part it was because of the persons who were involved. A number of the persons who were involved in the Legal Aid Society as members of the board and as president of the board — and I can think of three or four of them — were also members of the work — were presidents of the Sacramento County Bar Association. Jack Downey, Bruce Allen, Forest Plant. And then there were a lot of others. There was some concern — this thought just comes to my mind — some concern about the, the need for community representation on the board.

Victor Geminiani: OEO had a requirement that a certain number of the board members — and I think it was 30% — had to be clients or client representatives.

Malcolm Weintraub: Right. That’s exactly right. And there was some concern “How can they participate on this board?” “What do they know about legal affairs?” I’ve never been one — I don’t think I’ve ever been one to be really concerned about that issue. It, as I said a minute ago, a lawyer should run a legal services program. That doesn’t mean that the board that assists — or that sets the long-range policy — has to be all lawyers. We can see that in California — and those lawyers who feel that way, that only lawyers should run everything, are very provincial, and I don’t agree with them. We’ve seen that — certainly that times have changed in many of our lawyer’s activities in California. The state bar of California now is run by a board of governors, which is composed in part of laypersons and lawyers. The commission, that’s a very important one in California, the commission on evaluation of judicial nominees, is a mixed commission of lawyers and non- lawyers. The Legal Aid Society board — 1967 and forward — became a board, which was partially composed — as we just said — of non-lawyers, representatives, board members of a group that was served by the Legal Aid Society. I think it was a terribly good thing. I don’t know how those board meetings went. I wasn’t a member of the board after 1967. But I think it was — it’s a very healthy thing to have that occur.

Victor Geminiani: Do you remember any issues around the expansion to Yolo County? Was that happening just as you were getting off the board?

Malcolm Weintraub: That was just in the — I think that was spring of — winter of ’66, spring of ’67.

Victor Geminiani: The Yolo County office was open some time around the summer of 1967.

Malcolm Weintraub: Yeah.

Victor Geminiani: Do you remember any issues that came up during the debate on the board or with the Yolo County board about the first time for the program to expand outside of Sacramento County to a different county — a neighboring county?

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, I can’t speak of this directly, because I wasn’t a part of the Yolo County group, but I would — I would anticipate that there was a thought on their part that Sacramento was trying to take over this — this area. And that this was — the onslaught of the Sacramento hordes. I don’t think though that — well, certainly that didn’t happen — and I think that the two guys who were involved in Yolo County at the time and who I remember talking to about it never had that fear.

They were Oliver North, a lawyer practicing up in Woodland, and a fellow who was a — who had previously been a partner of mine, and was — had been teaching at McGeorge, Claude Rohwer — and Claude is still at McGeorge. They — I don’t think they — they have the sensitivity that this made good sense, that here we had an organization that was established, and they could do a very good thing by enlarging to Yolo County. That was a county that was served by the United Way anyway. And so, it made sense to do that. I never thought that Sacramento River was terribly important as a divisive force in this community. And we really, really much more than this community than just Sacramento, includes a lot more. So I don’t think that really was a problem.

Victor Geminiani: You hired Clarence Brown as your first legal attorney —

Malcolm Weintraub: I did.

Victor Geminiani: — executive director. Can you tell me any issues that the board contemplated around his selection, thought about, discussed around his selection?

Malcolm Weintraub: Issues? He was a — no, I can’t remember any real issues about his appointment. I think it was — I think we interviewed about four or five persons. He was clearly superior. He was an energetic, articulate, bright fellow, who — who was a wonderful choice. Clarence is a — can be sometimes a difficult guy. He could be then a difficult guy. He can be now a difficult guy. I haven’t seen him in a long time. But he was not an easy person to get along with, but it was what was necessary for this burgeoning organization at the time. It had to have some fresh blood to do the things that it was going to do. And Clarence supplied that. Clarence is a character. And Clarence has a lot of enthusiasm. He had a lot of enthusiasm. He had a lot of knowledge. And he was — he could relate very well to the clients that he served. So that the organization was going to serve. And that was very important, because it was a new game. We were furnishing services to loads of people that we never furnished them before, and we had to be able to deal with that. And Clarence supplied that in large part, in large measure, and I’m — I don’t know what other — other people might have had a lot of problems with Clarence, because he was a difficult person. Very strong-willed. He was a dominant force at board meetings. He spoke his mind. And there are — I’m sure that there are persons that felt that he — he overstepped his authority. That’s the way it goes.

Victor Geminiani: Were there with the receipt of OEO funding and a new directive and the hiring of a new executive director and attorney for the first time, was there a change of direction or philosophy in the operation of the program? Did that funding and the change of personnel and the new mission create any philosophical difference in terms of what you were after as the board chair or what the board as a whole was after within the program?

Malcolm Weintraub: I didn’t perceive that. Once again, what I perceived out of the OEO funding was the ability to furnish legal services to more people. And we were able to get out and do that. We were able to have offices where people were located. We were able to be open longer. We were able to have lawyers there for longer time. And good lawyers. Not second-rate practitioners. And that was important — to furnish quality legal services to people who couldn’t afford it. And that’s what I think the
goal was, and I think — I don’t think that there was any — I don’t know of any political agenda, for example, that was done. I don’t know that there was any specific direction adopted by the board or by the management, by the executive director, that put a certain focus on some things. I don’t even know what we get to call them. I think — at least while I was still there — and that was very early stages, so Victor, I don’t know what happened, you know, in May of 1967. The program started in the fall, as I remember fall of ’66. That is the OEO-funded program. We got some money in the fall of ’66. I think we signed the contract with OEO in summer of ’66. But I don’t know what happened then in May of ’67. I do know that in the — at least the focus of the board — was we are now able to furnish more services to more people in more depth — quality services — than we were before. And that’s what we should have been — we should have been doing that ten years ago, which we didn’t.

Victor Geminiani: As you reflect back on the most critical roles you played in the early creation of legal aid in this community into what it is today, do you have any words of wisdom or advice for people that are following in your footsteps either on the board or on the staff of legal aid programs throughout our state — most importantly the one located here in Sacramento?

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, this is going to sound — you know, may sound officious or whatever — but I’ve been lawyering for about 35 years. I graduated from law school about 37 years ago, and I had those two years in the army. I think I mentioned that earlier. But I’ve been lawyering for 35 years. I really believe that a lawyer should furnish the best quality services to his clients, whoever his clients are, at whatever time he’s there. When he’s not ready, no longer capable by way of illness or whatever –
– or inclination — if he becomes indolent, if he just doesn’t give a damn, then you ought to quit. But as long as he’s sitting there and holding himself out — and as my dad would say, “as long as you got your shingle out” — my dad was not a lawyer — but as long as you are a professional and you’re a lawyer, then what you’ve got to do is provide, to the best of your ability, the best legal services you can, quality legal services, to your clients. I don’t care whether you’re in a legal services program, whether you’re giving legal aid to the poor, whether you’re furnishing services — legal services — to the largest corporation in the U.S., or whatever you do. Furnish really the best service you can. Be a good lawyer.

Because what those people are who come to you are people who are — who want your advice, who want your recommendations, who want you to — they don’t consciously say this to you, of course. They want you to come — after they tell you their story — and they want you to analyze that story — that problem — as you’re able to do as a lawyer, and then furnish them some recommendation as to how to solve that legal problem, if in fact there is one. If there isn’t one, then you tell them. If there is one, then you try to help them. That’s all there is to it. Legal services to the poor through a legal aid society, through the legal services of northern California, through the legal services program of Keokuk, or whatever, is
just the same thing. It’s being a good lawyer. And you should — and no legal services program should say, “Well, just because — well, they’re just poor people; you don’t have to give them the same quality of service.” That’s bull. You’ve got to give them the best service you can. As I said, if you can’t do that, then you ought to hang it up.

Victor Geminiani: Well, I want to thank you personally for providing an opportunity for us to meet with you and talk briefly about some of your experiences as one of the most critical leaders in the history of our program at a very very important transitional point. On behalf of the clients of northern California and the board and the staff, I want to thank you for your contributions over the years.

Malcolm Weintraub: Well, thank you.