ABA President-Elect Calls on California Law School Graduates to Fulfill Their Commitment to Public Service
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 26, 2004 — American Bar Association President-elect Robert Grey today told graduating law students that their law degree is the beginning of “a life of great purpose,” and urged them to commit to fulfilling their role as public servants. “Whatever firm or company you work for, whatever clients you have, your ultimate obligation as a lawyer is to uphold justice and the principles our country was founded upon.”
Grey noted that the obligation and opportunities to serve are around every corner. “Not two weeks ago, an ABA commission analyzing inequities in our criminal justice system held hearings here in California to examine the impact of sentencing laws on our justice system,” he said. “As lawyers, one of our primary objectives should be to take every step possible to rid our criminal justice system of the inequities and injustices that for too long have unfairly punished too many.”
Grey noted that the ABA Justice Kennedy Commission, which held hearings in Sacramento on April 15, had examined California’s “three strikes” law, an issue on which Californians will vote in November. Grey also pointed out that California’s recidivism rate – the percentage of inmates released on parole who return to prison – is the highest in the country, and that the additional penalties imposed on former inmates after their release often present difficult challenges for those attempting to reenter society upon release.
“Today you join the ranks of the American legal profession and in doing so become part of a cause which is our nation’s greatest moral strength and highest aspiration: the cause of justice,” said Grey. “When the Justice Kennedy Commission issues its recommendations later this year, each of you will have an opportunity to further that cause by helping to ensure that your state’s and our nation’s criminal justice system is the most just in the world.”
The American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional association in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.