More Evidence Of Ethics Rot In The Legal Profession

The combination of The Great Stupid washing over the land, woke indoctrination and bullying, and the politicization of everything has perhaps taken its greatest toll on the trustworthiness of the professions. One after another has succumbed to ethics rot to an extent that one would have been unimaginable. The legal profession has been especially ravaged.

A depressing and horrifying op-ed in the Wall Street Journal told the first-hand account of how the writer was fired from her law firm, Hogan Lovells, for daring to express an opinion that was not deemed compliant with current progressive cant. She wrote in part,

After the Supreme Court issued its Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, global law firm Hogan Lovells organized an online conference call for female employees. As a retired equity partner still actively serving clients, I was invited to participate in what was billed as a “safe space” for women at the firm to discuss the decision. It might have been a safe space for some, but it wasn’t safe for me.

Everyone else who spoke on the call was unanimous in her anger and outrage about Dobbs. I spoke up to offer a different view. I noted that many jurists and commentators believed Roe had been wrongly decided. I said that the court was right to remand the issue to the states. I added that I thought abortion-rights advocates had brought much of the pushback against Roe on themselves by pushing for extreme policies. I referred to numerous reports of disproportionately high rates of abortion in the black community, which some have called a form of genocide. I said I thought this was tragic.

The outrage was immediate. The next speaker called me a racist and demanded that I leave the meeting. Other participants said they “lost their ability to breathe” on hearing my comments. After more of the same, I hung up.

Someone made a formal complaint to the firm. Later that day, Hogan Lovells suspended my contracts, cut off my contact with clients, removed me from email and document systems, and emailed all U.S. personnel saying that a forum participant had made “anti-Black comments” and was suspended pending an investigation. The firm also released a statement to the legal website Above the Law bemoaning the devastating impact my views had on participants in the forum—most of whom were lawyers participating in a call convened expressly for the purpose of discussing a controversial legal and political topic. Someone leaked my name to the press.

Well, KABOOM! This makes my head explode. Hogan Lovells is no rum-dum outfit: it’s currently the 28th ranked firm in the U.S. I’ve done ethics trainings for them. Jonathan Turley, who has been having a lot of head explosions lately, accurately expressed part of my reaction to this disturbing, canary-dying-in-the-mine story. Turley wrote,

…rather than engage Keller on why they believe that she is wrong, these lawyers asked her to leave the call and then pushed for her to be fired for expressing her views. As we have seen on college campuses, it has become commonplace to seek to silence others rather than to engage them in such debates…Free speech is viewed by many of us as a human right; the First Amendment only deals with one source for limiting it. Free speech can be undermined by private corporations as well as government agencies.

Yet, we have seen reporters and lawyers rally to the cause of censorship or speech controls in recent years. It is the subject of my recent publication in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The article entitledHarm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States.

That alarming trend is no more evident than lawyers saying that they “cannot breathe” in the presence of the exercise of free speech.

Let me go where apparently Professor Tuley’s professorly reserve won’t permit him to journey. For lawyers in a major law firm to behave this way signals that the profession that above all must be trusted cannot be. The partners and law firm management that chose to jettison a lawyer despite whatever skills and abilities she brought to the practice of law placed ideological conformity and their firm members’ biases above the practice of law and the best interests of their clients. Such a firm cannot be trusted. Lawyers are ethically required to keep their personal passions removed from their duties. They also belong to a profession that supposedly places integrity, loyalty, objectivity and reason above all else. Hogan Lovells obviously can’t meet the ethical mandates of the law; the episode is signature significance, as is the firm’s pathetic statement about the incident:

Firm leaders promptly reached out to the firm community to express their regret about the pain and upset that this has caused our community. We appreciate that this was brought to our attention and we are treating this matter seriously. While we encourage members of our community to engage in frank, candid discussion, we expect all discussion in our place of work, or in settings sponsored by the firm, to uphold our values of inclusivity, respect for diverse members of our community, and non-discrimination.

Lawyers suffering “pain and upset” because a colleague expressed a dissenting opinion in a phone conference? Those weren’t lawyers, they were children. Lawyers are supposed to relish debates and adverse positions, and are presumed to have the skills to rebut opinions they do not support. Not this firm’s lawyers, however. Then the firm falls back on woke buzzwords as a substitute for a persuasive justification. Inclusivity, diversity and non-discrimination were irrelevant to the firm’s despicable conduct, except to the extent that it does not believe in diversity that matters, which is diverse viewpoints and perspective as a part of any intellectual system.

Unless the firm has been secretly collecting militantly woke attorneys, one can only assume that others large firms have similarly crippled their trustworthiness. Biased, ideological, arrogant and doctrinaire lawyers are many things, but most of all, they are dangerous.

Now what?

24 thoughts on “More Evidence Of Ethics Rot In The Legal Profession

  1. “Free speech is viewed by many of us as a human right; the First Amendment only deals with one source for limiting it. Free speech can be undermined by private corporations as well as government.” agencies.

    That’s a good line to remember. Don’t know how many times I’ve seen arguments along the lines of “_____ (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can’t suppress speech because the First Amendment only restricts government.” They seem to think that the very concept of free expression originated with, begins, and ends with that one enumeration.

  2. Other participants said they “lost their ability to breathe” on hearing my comments.

    PROCTOR. But… surely you know what a jabberer she is. Did you tell them that?

    MARY: Mister Proctor, in open court she near choked us all to death.

    PROCTOR: How choked you?
    MARY: She sent her spirit out.
    ELIZABETH: Oh, Mary, Mary, surely you…
    MARY: She tried to kill me many times, Goody Proctor!
    ELIZABETH: Why, I never heard you mention that before.
    MARY: (Innocently.) I never knew it before. I never knew anything before. When she come into the court I say to myself, I must not accuse this woman, for she sleep in ditches, and so very old and poor… But then… then she sit there, denying and denying, and I feel a misty coldness climbin’ up my back, and the skin on my skull begin to creep, and I feel a clamp around my neck and I cannot breathe air; and then… (Entranced as though it were a miracle.) I hear a voice, a screamin’ voice, and it were my voice… and all at once I remembered everything she done to me!

    -Arthur Miller, The Crucible

    • There’s that word rearing its ugly head again: “community.” When did time sheet fillers at a law factory become a “community?” Is this the former Hogan & Hartson? Another example of indoctrinated college graduates bringing their inanities into the workplace. And no one’s pushing back! I bet the firm has a phalanx of people of color who do nothing but supervise diversity, equity and inclusion.

      • The ethics of birthday celebrations. When we were kids in the ’50s, I don’t remember our parents taking much note of their birthdays. Wedding anniversaries, a little bit. Birthdays were only celebrated for little kids, i.e., less than teenaged. When did we start making a big deal out of adult birthdays? Same time as adults started dressing up for Halloween? Isn’t it kind of unbecoming?

        • Bill, I haven’t celebrated a birthday in any notable way since I got my driver’s license, which apparently makes me unusual among my age group, based in the reactions I get when I answer the question, “What are you going to do for your birthday?” with “Nothing.” Like you, I can’t recall many birthday celebrations for adults during my childhood. There was the occasional milestone that got some extra attention, like turning 50 or 75 or something, but adult birthday parties were virtually unheard of.

      • DEI, as currently administered, does not include DEI of thoughts and ideas, only external factors. Very short-sided and inherently destructive to a society.

  3. “I referred to numerous reports of disproportionately high rates of abortion in the black community, which some have called a form of genocide. I said I thought this was tragic.”

    How is this an anti-black comment? It appears that the firm want to include more Blacks in the process of aborting Black pregnancy. Is this what they mean by “inclusivity”?

    It would appear that Hogan Lovells is an advocate for limiting the Black population and that is how interpret their statements.

      • I was emailing with a college friend about abortion. All of a sudden, we were talking about black people. I asked her why all of a sudden, we were talking about black people. She then informed me “adoption is a white person fantasy.” I then reminded her that she and her brother were both birthed by their mother who was adopted by her maternal grandparents. I asked her whether we have to take care of black people, and she replied yes, we do. This is an heiress whose only job has ever been to administer various of her family’s charitable foundations that fund hospitals and other operations around her town. She’s as white as I am. A graduate of Madeira. And an avid abortion supporter, like so many of her contemporaries. Vicious. She says things like “keep the government’s hand off my body.” Oy vey.

      • Perhaps you can add to your library of cultural video clips one that addresses cowardness (as exemplified too often by our corporate, academic, and political, leaders).

  4. Jack: “Lawyers are ethically required to keep their personal passions removed from their duties. They also belong to a profession that supposedly places integrity, loyalty, objectivity and reason above all else.

    “Lawyers are supposed to relish debates and adverse positions, and are presumed to have the skills to rebut opinions they do not support.”

    All that is true, of course. But, unless I missed it in your commentary, the most glaring problem here is that they were discussing a Supreme Court decision! You want to argue about who is the best NBA player of all time, whether Metallica is better than Megadeth, whether Han shot first, or whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie, be as irrational as you want to be, using every logical fallacy in your playbook. But, these are LAWYERS who seem incapable of discussing a SUPREME COURT DECISION. That seems to be the most damning aspect of all of this. Think whatever you want about abortion, Roe, Casey, and Dobbs, taken together raise a whole host of interesting legal questions that are debatable both from 10,000 feet (“Roe was badly decided,” or “Stare Decisis is good”), and in the middle of the weeds (“Is Alito’s reliance on statutory analysis of state laws in the 1800’s much better than Roe’s analysis of ancient views regarding quickening, etc.?”) A lawyer should be able to say the following sentence without suffering any mental trauma: “I believe abortion is a right that is protected by the U.S. Constitution, and I believe that Roe was a badly reasoned decision.” I think that was Ginsburg’s view.

    The facts that these lawyers can’t discuss the merits of a legal opinion without suffering a conniption is frightening.

    -Jut

    (Answers: Michael Jordan; Metallica; Han shot first; no, it isn’t)

    • I deliberately left that aspect out. You’re right, it’s important. It’s especially important because Roe has been widely recognized as bad law ever since it was issued. You’d think the women in a major law firm would recognize that.

      • No. They’re all young and have never heard a single word critical of Roe, ever. Any Con Law Prof who would dare to criticize Roe’s jurisprudence has been run out of any and every law school since 1985 or so.

        • Not sure that I would agree with that. I was in law school in the 90’s and I think there were critical comments. I am pretty sure their was critical comments on the reasoning in Brown v. Board of Education (not the holding or the result, but the legal reasoning). Of course, my Con Law professor was an Asian guy who had clerked for Justice Thomas, so there were some students who eyed him skeptically.

          -Jut

          • That’s good to hear, Jut. Do you think your prof was an outlier? Sounds like it to me. I doubt there’s anyone critical of Roe left at Notre Dame Law, if you can believe that of what used to be a staunchly conservative and Catholic faculty.

      • It is worse than than just disagreeing with a point. Agreeing with a Supreme Court decision is now a fireable offense at these law firms. This signals that open defiance of the Supreme Court and their decisions is now the official position of these firms. This shouldn’t be surprising after numerous states and federal judges are openly and publicly defying Supreme Court decisions.

        If the attorneys no longer respect the law and court decisions, why should the people?

  5. Change the firm name to Hogan Lovells, W.O.K.E. Good way to cause real lawyers to run away, and an opportunity for State Bars and the ABA to document the many Rules of Profession Conduct the WOKE firm is breaking…

  6. This is merely another of the endless examples of a totalitarian left that will not abide the smallest deviation from their intractable dogma. Any such transgression, no matter how small will be relentlessly attacked with the singular purpose of destroying the disseminator.

    That said, I thought those ultra fragile participants that claimed they found themselves gasping for air upon hearing a divergent viewpoint was amusing. They are beyond all hope of salvation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.