|'Dear Alice' #3:
'Dear Alice . . .'
- by Alice Marie Beard
and law students, and one-time law students still write
me because of an online journal I kept
during my "One Hell" year at Catholic
University. The following arrived in January 2001. With
the details the writer gives, the school could be
determined if what he says is true. It's unlikely that an
official from any law school will speak up to say,
"Stop talking about us that way."
By the way, my J.D. is from George
Mason University School of Law.
Now that you are at least temporarily out of law
school, I'll do a little less cheerleading and give
you my unpolished opinion on my law school experience
and the profession.
I started law school as a married father of 2 in my
late 30s in the early 1990s. I first went back to
college to get a bachelor's degree in my mid-30s with
the intent to go and get the law degree.
I quit law school with one semester to go. I was
successful at law school, not at the top of the class
in grades, but comfortable enough, and was elected
Student Bar President, as both the oldest person ever
to hold the office and by the largest majority of
votes ever recorded. The first cut to my perch in a
legal career came when an adjunct professor made
several disparaging remarks about blacks in class. I
took it upon myself as Bar President to confront him
privately after class, and discuss it with his
professor mentor at the school. As it later turned
out, this was to be the first class I ever failed at
law school, and, by the way, the only black in the
class failed also. In fact, we were the only ones to
fail the class.
Needless to say I was enraged, but controlled. Well,
when word got around about what had happened, two
female classmates come forward and told me that the
professor mentor mentioned above had propositioned
them quid pro quo for top grades in our 1L Torts
class for sexual favors, and they intimated that at
least some of the females in our class took the
offer. After a little digging, I then found a suit in
progress in Federal District Court for yet another
professor doing the same thing!
When I met with the Dean of the law school about the
sexual harassment issues, he had a "boys will be
boys" attitude about it, and it was no big deal
-- if it was even true at all -- and especially it
was to be handled internally, and he hoped the press
was not alerted. This Dean was near my age, married,
and a father with children [daughters] the same age
as my own, and this was at a private church founded
school. I found his attitude disgusting. But then I
remembered that there was a suit in progress, and the
possibility of other suits.
They were circling the wagons. Not too different from
your classmates reacting to your articles.
The suit was settled out of court. All the professors
involved in sexual harassment events are still
teaching there except the adjunct; he is on tenure
I have never been around more despicable people in my
life, and to remain around them, much less under
their tutelage, was a fate far worse than not having
a degree or entering the profession.
The arrogance and power often spoken of develops
sooner or later into the reprehensible actions I have
described above. While I cannot paint the whole
profession with the broad brush of my experience,
there is something horribly wrong with that
profession when an institution full of lawyers from
around the world is so utterly despoiled by both the
malignant actors and those who knew what was going on
for years and chose not to get involved or be a
"pain in the ass."
But it taught me something very important about the
"profession": Truth, justice, doing the
right thing, having a conscience, and caring about
the well being of others does not matter in the law,
except perhaps superficially or publicly. Winning the
case no matter what and using money to keep score are
what matters in the profession. I realize that there
are some lawyers out there who do not ascribe to the
paradigm of success I have described, but they are
also not the lawyers the corporations or wealthy
defendants hire; they are not the lawyers who win
cases and amass fortunes to finance yet more cases,
nor are they the lawyers who shape the legal system.
To be effective, the lawyer must meet the opposition
at the low road.
Regretfully, the headlines reprove my findings daily.
Are you sure you want to practice law?
"If the worthy flee, then only the unworthy shall
Do you want the legal profession populated with people
like either of the two law professors whom you describe?