Lawyers seem to get into hot water more often than those in many other professions. We all personally know a lawyer nailed for embezzling clients or, of one, as with Eric Wisler who is accused of paying a state senator $192,000 to influence legislation. Is the practice of law configured to put human beings in situations that are way too tempting? The Roman Catholic Church referred to those kinds of conditions as "the near occasions of sin."
In the NEW JERSEY LAW JOURNAL, David Gialanella reports, "An indictment announced Monday charges that Eric Wisler, while partner at DeCotlis, FitzPatrick & Cole in Teneck, made regular payments from 2004 through 2006 to Sen. Wayne Bryant, D-Camden, in return for Bryant's influence in the Legislature."
Why weren't there adequate monitoring systems as well as checks and balances in that law firm to pick up on, investigate, and report that kind of activity, if indeed it did take place? Should there be more peer review of other attorneys's strategies, tactics, and behavior? Should there be a more detailed accounting for money coming in and money going out?
The business of law might learn something from the business of intelligence. At the fictional think tank API in "Rubicon," which is supposed to dig for intelligence about national security, there are myriad devices as well as oversight from other organizations such as the FBI to detect inappropriate, illegal, or unethical behavior. Unfortunately, the top layer of the organization contains a master crook. However, the organization might be structured in a such a way that the brass will be outed and ousted.
It might be useful for the American Bar Association to study how other types of organizations prevent what happens too often in law firms, of all sizes.