Ethics Quote Of The Week: Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Greenfield

“A perpetual concern, particularly in criminal defense, is that the next generation of lawyers will lack the skills needed to do their job, to zealously represent their clients. They struggle to tolerate the language we encounter in the ordinary course of our work. They are blinded by hatred of their prosecutorial adversaries, the law enforcement witnesses, the judge who denies their pleas for “justice.” Can they mount effective arguments against their clients if they can’t tolerate hearing arguments with which they disagree?”

—Criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield, on his blog “Simple Justice,” reacting to the law students at UC Hastings shouting down Georgetown Law professor Illya Shapiro, who was supposed to be engaging in a civil debate with a Hastings professor.

Ethics Alarms discussed the Hastings incident here [#4]; I should have probably made a solo post of it, because as Greenfield correctly points out, it has wider implications. Later he writes,

The reaction to these students was split, with many woke law students and baby lawyers applauding their action while more experienced lawyers were appalled at what they viewed as a failure of a law school, of law students, to demonstrate the minimal capacity to engage in the manner that will be expected of them as lawyers. If tactics like this are what law students deem acceptable, will they ever be capable of being lawyers?

Greenfield also, as I did, lays much of the responsibility for this development on the law schools and their cowardly, virtue-signaling addicted  administrators (my words, not his). Speaking of the perfunctory admonition the students received from the school’s dean for their tantrum, he notes,

Of course he commended their “passion,” as that’s what law school has become, a place where adults appease the unduly passionate lest they be the next victim of their outrage. His tummy rub wasn’t vigorous enough to either persuade students to stop being like infants or to avoid becoming their target as well.

Indeed. Ethics Alarms’ current preoccupation with the accelerating deterioration of young America’s support for dissent, civil discourse and free speech in favor of forced acceptance of “the best version of the truth” as decreed by the Left omitted the parallel issue Greenfield correctly red flagged in his post. This does not bode well for the future of legal practice.

2 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Week: Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Greenfield

  1. Yet I’d bet (if I were a gambler) that many of these offended students listen to music filled with terms that otherwise are unacceptable.

  2. Passion is not and has never been a substitute for skill. Anger is not a substitute for competence. Not to quote myself, but I borrowed from Shakespeare in my own writing, and had one of the mentor figures say to one of the heroes that: Anger is a provoker of three things: shouting, broken friendships, and poor decisions. Fighting it provokes and unprovokes, it provokes the desire, but hampers the performance.

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