Letters From Our Readers

Letters: Equal Justice

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Equal justice

Apropos ABA President Patricia Lee Refo’s “Justice for All,” February-March, page 6, referencing the long-standing, diligent efforts of the ABA to ensure such equal justice for all.

Surely we lawyers are well enough endowed with the skills and influence necessary to achieve that “equal justice for all” under the law both in criminal and civil proceedings. What we seem to lack is the collective commitment to make the required institutional changes so no litigant would have to rely upon the off chance a volunteer might step up to provide pro bono representation.

Regrettably, far too many among us—often precisely those holding political power at all levels of government—seem dedicated to forestalling such equal access to justice for all. Are illustrations really needed?

If only that latter cohort of lawyers would conscientiously heed the call sounded by President Patricia Lee Refo.

Thomas Goetzl
Bellingham, Washington

Dream vs. wake-up call

I was somewhat encouraged and discouraged by “Dreams Deferred,” December-January, page 44.

I was encouraged because there is so little recognition of the side effects of imposing such large debts on young people for their education. I was discouraged because the article spoke only to the legal profession.

Student debt is a national problem. Some have recognized that by offering some small steps, such as Kenneth Langone and others who funded the New York University Medical School to eliminate all tuition. Their reasoning, as reported, was because the debt not only put medical school out of reach for so many, especially minorities, but it also forced many to look at making money in medicine as a necessity to pay down the debt. It prevented many from taking up jobs in public health, small communities or family medicine.

That is true not just in law and medicine, it is true for everyone. It is causing our youth to put off marrying, having children, buying houses and everything else. It is effectively impoverishing them during their youth, forcing them to take the path of least resistance to pay off the debt.

While I am not an economist, I expect that student debt is overall one of the major forces holding our economy back. I look at the GI Bill after World War II as what drove American superiority. Young people who never dreamed of college or professional careers came back from service and found that they had the ability to gain a higher education.

The answer to the problem is not going to be solved by lawyers or doctors; it is one that must be solved by a national policy that will allow all Americans, not just the wealthy, to have as much education as they can absorb.

Maurice A. Nernberg

I have been a member of the ABA since I was a law student almost four decades ago. “Dreams Deferred” was truly a new low for the ABA. Law school is expensive. Indeed, colleges and university educations are expensive—outrageously expensive. Who is supposed to pay for these educations? Why should someone else assume that debt?

There are paths for reducing such debt that include public service. There are few adults who have not had to “defer dreams” in order to be fiscally responsible. We would all like larger, more commodious homes; we make sacrifices to raise our children, to feed and educate our children. It’s called being a grown-up. The pandering is beyond the pale. Seriously. Please stop.

Denise P. Ward
Port Chester, New York


In the print and intial web versions of "Letters From Our Readers," April-May, page 8, the verb "was" was erroneously added to the first line of Thomas Goetzl's letter.

The Journal regrets the error.
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