Justice says legal world must do more for youth

by The Associated Press
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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The legal community isn’t doing enough to attract the country’s finest into its ranks, said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in a speech Saturday evening in San Francisco.

The comments were made during a 26-minute speech at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting.

“We now have young people and experts from a range of disciplines across society asking whether law is still a career that should be pursued as it once was,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy alluded to the release of a recent bar association study that found the current system for financing law school education deeply flawed because of its tendency to drive up tuition costs and student debt. He said he hasn’t examined it closely, so he wouldn’t comment on issues raised about changes in law school curriculum, structure, or even whether it should continue to be three years.

The justice instead asked the group of lawyers to “consider what your answer would be to a talented young man or a brilliant young woman who asked you, “Should I pursue a career in the law?”‘

“I submit to you that it must be the purpose and mission of this great association to ensure that the structure of the legal academy and the structure of the profession are such that you can and will answer `yes,’ and that that answer is true and accurate for thousands of young people every year,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy comes from a multi-generational legal family and he spent some time discussing the common language of the law and the importance of civic education for democracy and freedom.

“When I was growing up it was common,” across the country, Kennedy said. “Members of the legal profession went to their most eminent colleagues and asked them to go on the bench. We must continue to attract to the judiciary our finest practitioners, and we’re not doing it.”

During his remarks Kennedy also briefly spoke about human trafficking, urging that it be stopped and people continue to bring attention to the issue.

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