8                         SPEECH OF 
12                  UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH 
13                       PITTSBURGH, PA 
14                        MAY 24, 1997 
 1              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Thank you so 
 2    much, Dean.  I am very proud to be at Pitt Law 
 3    School today.  One of the lawyers that has worked 
 4    with me for most of the last 18 years, is a 
 5    graduate of this law school.  He is one of the best 
 6    trial lawyers who served in the State Attorney's 
 7    and he's been one of my wisest counselors of the 
 8    Department of Justice.  Your United States Attorney 
 9    for the Western District of Pennsylvania is another 
10    product of this law school.  You're a great law 
11    school with a great future as you leave it. 
12              But from this extraordinary institution, 
13    you will take memories, you will take friendships, 
14    you will take learning, you will take new 
15    perspectives that are going to be with you for the 
16    rest of your life.  What are you going to do with 
17    them?  What are you going to do with the law? 
18              In these four years as Attorney General, 
19    I have looked back and reached back to my law 
20    school days time and again for the approach I take 
21    in analyzing a legal problem, for the judgment I 
22    exercise in resolving that problem, for the 
23    understanding that I developed from professors and 
24    friends and colleagues.  You will be touched by 
25    your professors for a long time to come, I expect. 
 1              My dean asked me and the 15 other women 
 2    to come to dinner one night at his house.  He 
 3    wanted to know what we were going to do with our 
 4    law school education.  But during these 37 years 
 5    that have followed, he has encouraged me up until 
 6    the time of his death with a note.  Even upon my 
 7    graduation, he would see me and know exactly what I 
 8    was doing and encourage me even more in public 
 9    service or whatever aspiration I had at the time. 
10    And when the President was considering my 
11    nomination, he was there saying it would be a good 
12    idea.  One of the most wonderful opportunities I 
13    had after becoming Attorney General was to say, are 
14    you satisfied with what I did with my legal 
15    education? 
16              What will you do?  First of all, I hope 
17    you will love the law as much as I have.  It is a 
18    great profession and I love lawyers.  I just don't 
19    like greedy, indifferent, selfish lawyers.  And 
20    there are not that many of them.  But draw strength 
21    and wisdom from this institution and go forth.  Go 
22    forth and enjoy what you do.  I promised when I 
23    graduated from law school never to do anything I 
24    didn't enjoy doing.  There have been a couple of 
25    days I could have done without in the ensuing 
 1    years.  But the law provides such an extraordinary 
 2    variety, provides so many challenges.  It provides 
 3    a view of life, its joys, its tragedies, its 
 4    sorrows.  It can never be matched anyplace else. 
 5    And the law provides an extraordinary opportunity 
 6    to serve others. 
 7              And so as you go forth, use the law to 
 8    solve other peoples' problems, whether it be the 
 9    person making $35,000 a year who can't work through 
10    the complicated Social Security problems facing an 
11    elderly parent or a lady who's living in poverty 
12    and can't get her landlord to fix the kitchen 
13    that's falling in from the ceiling above.  Too 
14    often lawyers do battle and they make the momentary 
15    deal.  But they don't solve their clients 
16    problems. 
17              One example I cite is the arena of the 
18    criminal courtroom.  Too often the prosecutor feels 
19    like they have won their battle when they get the 
20    conviction and see the person sentenced to an 
21    appropriate prison sentence.  But the battle has 
22    not been won because there are not adequate prison 
23    cells to house that person for the length of time 
24    the Judge has sentenced them.  There are not 
25    adequate drug treatment programs or rehabilitation 
 1    programs to bring that person back to the community 
 2    with the chance of success upon release from 
 3    prison.  It is a revolving door and prosecutors 
 4    have far more to do than just get the conviction. 
 5              Prosecutors have a duty to see that the 
 6    community focuses on this issue, that they've got 
 7    to speak out for fair, firm punishment that fits 
 8    the crime but they have got to speak out for after 
 9    care and follow-up.  It makes no sense to convict 
10    somebody, to see them go to jail and then to return 
11    them to the apartment over the open air drug market 
12    where they got into trouble in the first place.  As 
13    lawyers, we've got to do more than just do battle. 
14              And the public defender so often feels 
15    like they've won the battle when they get their 
16    client off on a motion to dismiss or a motion to 
17    suppress, knowing full well that that client 
18    suffers from a crack addiction that is a worse 
19    prison than anything we could send them to.  And 
20    yet too often, the public defender does nothing. 
21    We have got to make sure that we focus on what 
22    causes the crime. 
23              I would look at presentence 
24    investigations and see four points along the way 
25    with a 17-year-old that I had adjudicated guilty of 
 1    armed robbery.  Four points along the way where we 
 2    could have intervened and made a difference in that 
 3    child's life but we waited.  I went to our public 
 4    hospital to try to figure out what to do about 
 5    crack involved infants and their mothers.  And the 
 6    doctors taught me that the first three years of 
 7    life are the most formative, that that's when the 
 8    child learns the concept of reward and punishment 
 9    and develops a conscience.  And I thought to 
10    myself, what good are all the prisons going to be 
11    18 years from now if we don't teach a child what's 
12    right, what's wrong and help them develop a 
13    conscience. 
14              And so lawyers across this country should 
15    be not only dedicated to doing battle, but both in 
16    their practice and in public and community service, 
17    to making sure that every child in America has 
18    appropriate preventative medical care, that the 
19    children of American have appropriate care and 
20    education in those formative years of zero to five, 
21    that the children of America have educational 
22    opportunities that can match the challenges of the 
23    21st century. 
24              Now, I can't tell you if we're going to 
25    be great litigators to put down your pleadings, lay 
 1    down your motions and your law books and leave your 
 2    practice behind.  But I can tell you, that unless 
 3    all of us, both in our private practice and in our 
 4    public service, in our work with city councils, 
 5    state legislatures and Congress, unless we address 
 6    the issue of the law serving children, we are not 
 7    going to have a work force with the skills that can 
 8    maintain this nation as a first-rate nation.  We 
 9    will not have medical institutions with sufficient 
10    resources to cope with the terrible problems caused 
11    by failure to provide care upfront.  We can do it 
12    if we utilize the law as a problem solver. 
13              And the same situation exists in the 
14    civil arena.  There are too many lawyers that want 
15    to win, sometimes at all costs.  What are the 
16    costs?  The cost is that four years later the 
17    problem is still hanging around because everybody 
18    wants to litigate and the problem hasn't been 
19    solved.  The cost is dollars spent in cost of the 
20    trial that eat up the recovery so that the litigant 
21    has little, if anything, left over, while the 
22    lawyer gets their contingent fee.  And the cost is 
23    the trauma of the litigation.  The litigation that 
24    just is branded on some litigants' minds that they 
25    have gone through the processes of the system. 
 1              Remember your client.  I think Abraham 
 2    Lincoln said it best, discourage litigation. 
 3    Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you 
 4    can.  Point out to them how the nominal winner is 
 5    often a real loser in fees and expenses and in 
 6    waste of time.  As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a 
 7    superior opportunity of being a good person.  There 
 8    will be business enough. 
 9              How do you do it?  How do you solve the 
10    problems?  Well, first off, you have got to be a 
11    good litigator because the best negotiator is the 
12    one who is not afraid to go to trial.  You have got 
13    to learn how to value a case in good dollar terms 
14    with the best interest of your client most at 
15    issue.  You've got to learn how to negotiate. 
16              And in learning how to negotiate and to 
17    resolve disputes, you can do so much to problem 
18    solve.  I've seen litigators force environmental 
19    litigation to final conclusion only to get a 
20    confused result from a jury.  I have seen 
21    litigators stop and negotiate and come up with a 
22    structure that serves the interest of the 
23    community, the litigants, and all involved because 
24    they sat down together and solved a problem. 
25              Take what you learn in dispute resolution 
 1    and translate it to the community.  Do, for 
 2    example, as young lawyers in San Antonio, Texas, 
 3    have done and work with school children to teach 
 4    them how to resolve conflicts without knives and 
 5    guns and fists.  Solve problems not just in your 
 6    practice but in your community. 
 7              But one of the major problems that 
 8    America faces and that each of us faces as lawyers 
 9    is that too many Americans do not have access to a 
10    lawyer and do not have access to justice.  Each 
11    year we graduate more lawyers and yet there is a 
12    tremendous and growing segment for our population 
13    who cannot afford the legal assistance they need. 
14    It is estimated that 60 percent of the poor and the 
15    working poor in this country do not have access to 
16    the legal system. 
17              We create such great expectations of 
18    constitutional rights, of civil rights and yet we 
19    deliver too few of these rights in reality.  As a 
20    consequence, for too many Americans, the law is 
21    worth little more than the paper it's written on. 
22    And these people become alienated and bitter and 
23    undermine our democracy.  All of us have a 
24    responsibility to solve the problem.  We must begin 
25    to work together as a profession to make the law 
 1    real for all Americans. 
 2              I have been so impressed with what I have 
 3    heard and read about the opportunities here at Pitt 
 4    for public service and for pro bono service.  Take 
 5    that with you as you leave here and use it.  When 
 6    you go to a law firm, what is your pro bono 
 7    practice, ask them.  Do you permit it?  Do you 
 8    encourage it?  And if they don't, look someplace 
 9    else.  We must all give back to our community if we 
10    are to solve our problems. 
11              How do we make the law real?  We've got 
12    to simplify the law.  Maybe even go a step beyond 
13    what the Dean said and make the law simple so that 
14    we don't have to translate and explain all of the 
15    time.  Make the law understandable in small, old 
16    words that people can appreciate.  Give people the 
17    tools of the law so that they can be 
18    self-sufficient.  Support legal services programs. 
19    This has been one of the great institutions in this 
20    country.  It is now in peril, but it has made the 
21    law real in too many situations and reinforced the 
22    foundations of our democracy. 
23              But at some point, I urge you all to 
24    consider public service.  I don't think you have to 
25    do it all your career.  But at some point, it is an 
 1    experience worth having.  I have been in private 
 2    practice in a small law firm of two and in a major 
 3    Miami firm and I have been in public service. 
 4    Nothing can compare to public service. 
 5              An example, I went with the President of 
 6    the United States to South Carolina for the 
 7    dedication of a new church to replace a church that 
 8    had been the victim of a church arson.  After the 
 9    ceremony, I walked off the platform and a woman 
10    burst through the lines of the crowd and came up to 
11    me and give me a big hug and said, Janet, I haven't 
12    seen you since you got child support for my 
13    children in Miami.  And she says, and I want you to 
14    see the two you got child support for.  And she 
15    pointed up to two grown young men who were standing 
16    there and they smiled down at me.  And that 
17    experience and so many similar experiences can 
18    never match whatever money is made in private 
19    practice and will always exceed the material 
20    rewards you get out of the practice of law. 
21              Now, you may say, well, I've seen you on 
22    television and sometimes it doesn't looks like much 
23    fun.  Yes, you get cussed at and fussed at and 
24    figuratively beat around the head.  But to use the 
25    law to try to make the Constitution real, to sit 
 1    there in a Senate oversight hearing and  think, 
 2    this is what it's all about, these are the checks 
 3    and balances, this is how you've got to work 
 4    through these issues, it's an experience that every 
 5    lawyer should have in some form or another. 
 6              But as we are attacking our problems, we 
 7    have also got to do all that we can to heal the 
 8    divisions caused by intolerance and bigotry, to 
 9    heal the youth who is angry, to welcome the 
10    immigrant, to cross the racial divide.  We need to 
11    speak out against prejudice and hatred everywhere 
12    we see it.  Haters are cowards and when they are 
13    confronted, they usually back down.  But too often 
14    we let them become entrenched before we speak out 
15    because we are too busy, we don't want to get 
16    involved, it's not our problem.  Hate and the 
17    turmoil it causes is everybody's problem. 
18              In our generation, we have seen 
19    remarkable progress in our efforts to bridge the 
20    gap between our ideals of freedom, equality and 
21    justice and the harsher realities of our daily 
22    experience.  But we cannot say that we have 
23    completed our work when today African-Americans and 
24    Hispanics and, in many cases, women still have a 
25    harder time renting an apartment, getting a job or 
 1    obtaining a loan.  We have not completed our 
 2    journey when the unemployment rate for 
 3    African-American males is still twice as high as it 
 4    is for white males.  We have not completed our 
 5    journey when people are denied housing because of 
 6    their race or ethnic background.  Worst of all, 
 7    reports of violent hate crimes against minorities, 
 8    Jews and gays and lesbians are disturbingly high. 
 9    If some of the church fires are any indication, 
10    hate itself has become more brazen. 
11              Old habits die hard, attitudes evolve 
12    slowly.  We must do more, much, much more, to open 
13    the doors of opportunity so that every American, 
14    every American can contribute to America's 
15    magnificent bounty.  But sometimes problems don't 
16    get solved.  Lawyers must be ever willing, ever 
17    vigilant and always prepared to use the law as a 
18    mighty shield against hatred and bigotry and 
19    wrong. 
20              For as long as I live, I will remember 
21    the case of James Joseph Richardson, a man who had 
22    been prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to death 
23    for the poisoning death of his seven children 21 
24    years before in another small county in Florida. 
25    He had always maintained his innocence and the 
 1    Governor of Florida asked me to be a special 
 2    prosecutor and to go to that other county and 
 3    reinvestigate the case.  After a lengthy 
 4    investigation, we concluded that the evidence was 
 5    insufficient to have charged him initially, it was 
 6    clearly insufficient now and that he should go 
 7    free.  For as long as I live, I will always 
 8    remember looking over my shoulder at a man who 
 9    walked out of a courthouse a free man for the first 
10    time in 21 years.  Never stop doing your part to 
11    make sure that there is justice for all. 
12              But as you solve problems and as you use 
13    the law as a shield and as a protector, remember 
14    what is closest to home.  I remember my afternoons 
15    and evenings.  My mother taught us to play 
16    baseball, to appreciate Beethoven's symphonies, to 
17    bake cakes.  She taught us how to play fair, she 
18    punished us and she loved us with all her heart. 
19    There is no child care in the world that will ever 
20    be a substitute for what that lady was in our life. 
21              You're going out into a world of billable 
22    hours and money considerations and time 
23    considerations.  I urge you to go out and make a 
24    world for you and for your generation that puts 
25    your children and family first in what you do every 
 1    day, in your workplace and in your life.  There is 
 2    nothing more rewarding than raising children.  I've 
 3    never been married and I don't have any of my own. 
 4    But in 1984 a friend died, leaving me as the legal 
 5    guardian of her 15-year-old twins, a boy and a 
 6    girl.  And the girl was in love.  I've learned an 
 7    awful lot about raising children in the ensuing 
 8    years. 
 9              It takes love, hard work and an awful lot 
10    of luck.  But when I put that young lady on the 
11    plane to college and three years later went to see 
12    her graduate cum laude, and on each occasion she 
13    threw her arms around my neck and said, thank you, 
14    I couldn't have done it without you, that is as 
15    rewarding as any professional achievement I have 
16    ever had. 
17              You can do it.  You can solve your 
18    clients' problems.  You can protect those for 
19    victims of injustice.  You can make this world a 
20    better place.  And you can do it if we work 
21    together right by putting your family first. 
22    Godspeed to you all and I hope the law will be as 
23    rewarding to you as it has been for me.