Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ethics: That former career

A recent story in the Buffalo News concerned a face familiar to those of us who watch too much television, attorney Brian Goldstein of The Barnes Firm. Mr. Goldstein possesses an MD from a Dominican medical school, which in itself isn't all that unusual. Why this is even a story is that Mr. Goldstein appeared in TBF commercials seeking Vioxx cases, commenting on his medical experience. The catch is that his medical license was revoked before he ever went to law school.

I'm posting not because it's good salacious gossip, but because many of us come to law with a background in some other field. Each of us have had to deal with incorporating that training and experience with our legal practice, whether or not we are pursuing legal work related to the previous career and/or training. I think, personally, that it is allowable for Mr. Goldstein to list his earned degrees on the letterhead, but I also think that anyone listing credentials needs to be prepared for some scrutiny and the standard misreading by the public.

By way of personal example, before law school, I earned a Master of Science in Environmental Science at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. After that, I worked in the environmental field for two years as an organizer/researcher for an advocacy group. It was a good job and I gained some great experience. Yet, despite a mention on my firm website, I don't advertise or publicize that part of my background or my interest in environmental law. In grad school, I focused on a fairly narrow area of environmental policy (Adirondack) and took a series of classes heavier on research design and political science than on the technical side of forestry and environmental biology. I wouldn't want a mention of my background to be mistaken as billing myself as a forestry or conservation expert, as frankly I can't tell a timber cruise from Tom Cruise.


Blogger jackbear said...

yeah, leave the real science to the experts....

12:23 PM  

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