St. Mary's Law Journal


Grace M. Walle


The numerous allegations of misconduct against high-ranking United States political figures and the associated attorneys are disheartening, but even more disconcerting is the general public’s acquiescence to these ethical deviations. The common assumption that “all lawyers are crooks” fails to outrage anyone. The fact most, if not all, recent ethical violators attended law schools and began their political careers as lawyers prompts questions of the legal education process. Understanding what justice encompasses may begin in books and the classroom, but justice in legal practice requires far more. The aspiration of “doing justice” may stem from religious belief, but this goal is central to practicing law and crucial to the secular and sectarian alike. Changing the negative perception of lawyers and the practice of law requires an affirmative attempt by lawyers, law professors, and law schools to implement justice. This implementation of justice begins with understanding justice, not as a utopian theory, but rather an attainable goal. In advancing this goal, Catholic law schools can nurture and influence students in their commitment to justice by preparing future lawyers to have a Christian attitude of service, both in the community and the practice of law. While many students come to law school with a sensitivity to the need of the poor and are willing to take time to engage in public service projects, many are never introduced to the idea of social commitment. An important dimension of a law school should be introducing and supporting clinical programs, designed to make the law more responsive to the needs of the poor. Lawyers should be taught concern, not only for their own clients, but also for moral outcomes for everyone involved in a particular case. Moral outcomes are what true justice is all about.


St. Mary's University School of Law