I recently received a mailer from Raul Labrador, the GOP nominee for Idaho attorney general. The mailer reads, in part: “Raul worked his way through college to earn a law degree and serve in the Criminal Division of a U.S. Attorney’s Office.” The word “serve” immediately caught my attention as it suggests that Raul practiced law as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
This implication is not warranted. Raul was never employed as an attorney in any United States Attorney’s Office.
In the fine print on his webpage, Raul acknowledges that he was merely an intern. As a former U.S. attorney, I can tell you there is a huge difference between serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and volunteering as an intern for a few months. Interns seldom appear in court and, if they do, they handle only minor offenses under the supervision of a full-fledged Assistant U.S. Attorney.
For Raul to claim that he “serve[d] in the Criminal Division of a U.S. Attorney’s Office,” is, at best, misleading. But few people who receive his mailer are going to read the fine print on Raul’s website. He is content to create the impression that he did serious, substantive work and hope that no one calls him out.
In truth, Raul’s private law practice has been pretty much limited to immigration and some criminal defense. With a fairly shallow resume, it comes as no surprise that he would blatantly inflate his experience. What speaks volumes, though, is that he felt compelled to puff up an internship to promote his candidacy.
By way of contrast, Raul’s opponent Democratic nominee Tom Arkoosh has had a broad-based and successful law practice for 44 years. He is a former county prosecutor and chaired the Federal Defenders of Idaho. Arkoosh is well versed in civil law, commercial law, transactional law and water law, the latter a topic critical to Idaho and one about which Labrador admits having no practical knowledge.
Martindale-Hubble, the entity that performs and publishes peer review ratings of lawyers’ legal abilities and ethical standards, gives Arkoosh an AV rating, the highest grade possible on both counts. Mr. Labrador, however, is not even rated. The goal of the Peer Review rating system is to help keep the public informed when making the decision to do business with an attorney or law firm.
The people of Idaho would do well to question whether Raul Labrador, an unrated attorney with a penchant for puffery, is up to the job he seeks.
By way of full disclosure, this author has volunteered full-time as a senior advisor to Mr. Arkoosh’s campaign since he announced in late July of this year.