Opinion

The Trump Family's Full-Employment Plan: A Job For Every Lawyer

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Donald Trump, Jr. greets his father, then-candidate Donald Trump, during the town hall debate at Washington University on Oct. 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. Getty

UPDATEDII was a working lawyer in a previous life, and I rise now to praise the Trump family's latest contribution to full employment for the legal profession.

Patriarch Trump, The Donald, started early as a friend of the bar, when he pioneered the business model of hiring contractors and then refusing to pay them for work done and sometimes (just to turn the screws) for materials used. After forcing them to retain counsel and file suit to get paid, he would routinely settle out of court. He had lawyers on retainer to take care of these suits, and quickly realized that he saved money on every project, even after accounting for legal expenses.

I presume this business model is from the creative mind of Trump himself, since I can’t imagine the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business offers coursework in stiffing contractors.

Now, President Donald Trump has delivered beyond our wildest dreams by ensuring a future for the lawyers of America.

We knew he would continue his commitment to lawyer employment when, in the first year of his first term as president, everybody from his closest friends in his cabinet to the custodial staff in the West Wing had to lawyer up in anticipation of being interviewed and possibly called to testify in criminal prosecutions.

But as of Dec. 6, the whole of the Trump family has committed to a fundamental change in U.S. evidence law that will open up countless new jobs for lawyers: Henceforth, the attorney-client privilege will apply to keep any conversation confidential when a lawyer is present.

The new rule, it seems, was made public just last week, when Trump the Younger, Donald Trump Jr., declined to be questioned by the House Select Committee on Intelligence about a 2016 phone call with his father because a lawyer was also on the line. The presence of the lawyer, he claimed, meant that the conversation was shielded by attorney-client privilege.

The 2016 call had followed a controversial meeting between Trump Jr., Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and a number of Russians that has changed several times, depending on who was testifying. The committee, interested in learning what the president knew of the meeting, and when he knew it, was stymied by Trump Jr.’s protestation.

Normally, such a radical extension of existing rules would start with a meeting where the Trumps were jointly seeking legal advice. If the privilege held up in that circumstance, then it might arguably be extended to other kinds of interactions. Here, there is no need to speculate if the rule will extend beyond face-to-face meetings. The new rule, apparently, starts with a phone call.

Just think about this: A privileged conversation may not be used in any legal proceeding, criminal or civil. No more need to encrypt email—just cc your conversation monitor.

Now, we must not consider everything settled, because the attorney-client privilege will not shield conversations about future crimes. Give The Donald time to work, even if it takes a second term. Fundamental change takes time—and lots of legal services.

Think of how many conversations about past criminal activity will benefit from this new protection— this “Trump Rule.” Big-time movers and shakers will want their conversation monitors on duty 24/7, and that means so many good jobs for lawyers that law schools will have to start offering classes on the stuff.

Trump promised jobs, and jobs he is delivering. It's a great time to be a lawyer. I may even reactivate my law license: These conversation monitor jobs won’t require giving any legal advice, anyway.

Politically, the Grand Old Party now has an answer for the lawyers who complain about caps on damages in injury cases and the demise of class actions. Those policies just hurt people who have suffered catastrophic injuries and consumers who have been the victims of thefts too small to justify individual lawsuits. The actual number of lawyers put out of work by those GOP reforms will be tiny compared to the flood of new conversation monitoring jobs.

Look at everything this POTUS has accomplished in just a year: He grabbed sexual harassment by the pussy before the election and started the conversation that is cleaning Democrat libertines out of Congress. He is about to tilt the tax code to make the coastal elites pay their fair share, while still allowing the job creating class to keep money that the lesser classes would have blown on booze and women and movies anyway. He has assigned his son-in-law to bring peace to the Middle East.

All that and full employment for lawyers. What's not to like?

Steve Russell is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a high school dropout. He is retired from a first career as a Texas trial judge and from a second career teaching at Indiana University.

Correction: This article originally stated that Trump started as a "friend of the American Bar Association." It has been updated to reflect that the author instead meant the bar, a general shorthand for the legal profession, not the lobbying association.