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Lawyers Can Be Honest

Written By: Attorney Jonathan Emord  |  Posted: Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

You know you're getting old when almost all music, literature, art, and theatre that you like is unknown
to those with whom you work and socialize. You also know you are nearing your end game when the most common discussion young people have with you concerns not your current projects but advice for their prospective careers. Here is how I respond to a young lawyer or lawyer to be. You are nothing without integrity and firmly held principles. On the point of integrity, I tell young folks that there is never an instance when it is okay to sacrifice your integrity to achieve an end. In that regard, I relay a story from when I was about 25, having practiced law for just one year. A partner in a firm I worked for asked me to draft a pleading on behalf of a client that would recommend FCC retention of the fairness doctrine.

The fairness doctrine was an awful broadcast regulation that placed the government in the role of a super editor, lording over how broadcast journalists exercised their First Amendment editorial discretion on controversial issues of public importance. Rascals in Congress still want this unconstitutional doctrine applied but its enemies are numerous and outspoken. Under the fairness doctrine, broadcasters who presented one side of a controversial issue of public importance were obliged to present the other side in a roughly equivalent fashion. The effect of the fairness doctrine was to cause most broadcast journalists to flee from controversy--either by avoiding editorial content altogether or by presenting it on issues that were clearly not controversial.

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