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January 12, 2012


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David Bernstein

Buffoon? Seriously?


A very simple solution to the problem of the poor having no money, other than giving them money, is to make certain donated services tax deductible. There's a fair chance I'm wrong on the tax law, but I believe you can only deduct your actual expenses (filing fees, research costs, etc), but not the value of donated time or of a donated service.

The poor can't give you money in exchange for your services, but they can give you something very close, a tax break ...which you then turn into money. A poor client might not be able to pay your $200/hr rate, but might be able to get you $40-80/hr in tax deductions. That ain't bad. Certainly better than the zero dollars he was offering before.

Of course, this doesn't help lawyers who don't have any income to tax in the first place.

To give students with huge debt payments a break, I'd suggest making all student loan payments tax deductible; treat it the same way a business treats its expenses. Again, it only helps people who have an income, and enough money to pay back loans, but for most grads it would be a great deal of relief.

(Also, thanks for pointing out that doc review is not real legal work. This is a serious issue that gets overlooked in discussing job stats. Even though people in doc review are not practicing law in any meaningful sense, they still get classified as having a job that requires a JD and bar passage. Not to denigrate people who take these jobs, but they're not practicing law.)


Actually, it was Ernest Hemingway who issued the famous riposte to Fitzgerald. Dorothy Parker said many other witty things, though.

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