There’s always a bad apple running around somewhere.
This was just one of the light-hearted antidotes former judge and independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr used to sum up the dark and unethical politics associated with the craft of law.
As a former Time Magazine Man of the Year and current dean of Pepperdine’s School of Law, Starr’s star power drew an estimated crowd of about 50 – mostly aspiring CSUN pre law students – Wednesday evening at the Satellite Student Union’s Shoshone room.
Quickly rebounding from his five-minute late entrance – the speech was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. – Starr apologized before making light of the traffic and delving into the negative perceptions of lawyers.
“When we think of lawyers we think of movies like ‘Liar Liar,'” he said, referring to actor Jim Carrey’s role in the comedy, which portrays a habitually lying attorney.
Starr cited “Honest Abe Lincoln” as a man he considers one of the greatest practitioners of law in American history.
“He wasn’t born to the silver spoon,” he said. “He read, studied, and became a great master of the English language.”
Starr also read experts written by Lincoln prior to his presidency: “Resolve to be honest at all events. If you can’t be honest, don’t be a lawyer ? live uprightly and live honestly.”
Precise in his wording and soft in his tone, Starr kept his speech brief at 30 minutes before tackling questions ranging from what law schools (like Pepperdine) look for in an applicant to the negative stigma attached to the craft.
Representatives of CSUN’s student-led Business Law Association said Starr was the most prestigious law figure to speak on campus in recent memory.
And for all the controversy that swirled around Starr’s past appointment as an independent council, not one question addressed his investigations of the Whitewater land transaction deal, or for that fact, the notorious Starr Report.
“Most people here are on his side so they don’t want to bring up anything controversial,” said Kari Chehade, a CSUN economics student.
Referring to Starr’s spoken theme of “truth in all things” Chehade, 21, said it sounded “realistic, but almost unrealistic.” Chehade said it would take an amazing person to practice law without getting tangled in the occasional lie.
Langdon Southworth, a student of business administration and finance real estate, made it a point to take notes on Starr’s speech.
“I was glad to hear his topic of being ethically sound,” he said. Summing up Starr’s speech, Southworth, 30, expressed appreciation for the experience of hearing a high profile dean of a law school talk about what should be the most important attributions of any good lawyer – integrity and honesty.