'Dear Alice' #3:
'Dear Alice . . .'

- by
Alice Marie Beard

Lawyers, 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 track elsewhere.

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?

Alice's response:
"If the worthy flee, then only the unworthy shall remain."
Do you want the legal profession populated with people like either of the two law professors whom you describe?

Anyone is welcome to link to my words,
and anyone is welcome to print a copy of O
NE HELL for personal use.
However, you are not welcome to reproduce at another web site,
and/or to distribute en masse.
The copyright is mine.