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UW School of Law Transcript

GPSL Henry Aronson: Questioning the Unquestionable

February 24, 2014

Dean Kellye Testy

Well good evening everybody I think I'll go ahead and get started. Hello. And I do want to encourage everyone... I actually checked with our speaker and he promised not to call on you some going to encourage you know come on down. This is the room we had open and it's kind of cavernous so I won't call and you and neither will he.

So I want to welcome you. I am Kellye Testy the Dean here at the law school. On behalf of the school and also especially our center for public service which is led by the assistant Dean Michelle storms we want to welcome you warmly. Our center for public service is really the hub in the law school for promoting public interest and promoting public service. It does that through speaker’s series, through programming, through service opportunities for students. And as one of the hallmarks of our center we have this series is called the Gates public service law speakers series and 2 to 3 times a year we have a wonderful person that generously comes to the school to share their knowledge and we can hear from them people who have dedicated their careers to the common good and have worked in various ways to promote that. Our speaker series is just one highlight of our center but it's one we are really proud of and we are really proud to welcome Mr. Aronson here today.

I also want to know particularly that these speakers’ series tonight in addition to standing on its own is a wonderful event. It also opens diversity we care at the school of law. And while I want to be very clear that we care about diversity every day and every week here at the school of law we set this particular week aside so that we can be in even more intentional and deeper conversation about how we can more fully promote inclusion and diversity and cross difference competencies within our law school community and indeed throughout the entire justice system. And so you'll see this week that there is quite a lot of programs addressing various issues and challenges: everything from talking about transgender persons to a panel discussion is focused on Washington attorneys with disabilities to a discussion about tax policy and social outcomes. And you may think will what's that have to do with that? Well everything gets controlled to the tax code right? So you have to follow the money.

Well in any event we all have something to learn from our work together this week and so I hope everyone can participate in as many events as possible.

For tonight, let's work is there. I am really pleased to introduce to you Henry Aronson who has practiced law since 1962 when he graduated from Yale Law School which is a wonderful place to go if you don't go to the UW. It's just a fabulous institution. I like to tease people about that. Yeah, that's right, exactly.

As they freshly minted lawyer he served as an attorney to organizations and individuals central to the Mississippi civil rights movement including the student nonviolent coordinating committee, the southern Christian leadership Council, the Congress of racial equality, the NAACP, Dr. Martin Luther King and also Stokely Carmichael among others. And over the past 50+ years his career has covered a wide range of diverse topics but the work has also been very much about public service as well including directing the VERA Institute where he designed and directed a three-year pilot project providing alternatives to criminal prosecution for around 1000 defendants a year. He also established and directed the lawyers military defense committee a Saigon-based office that provided civilian representation of American servicemen before military tribunals on military bases throughout South Vietnam. Most recently in addition to his private practice he serves as a Commissioner for the Port of Seattle where he is one of five elected commissioners and that is I think the second largest container port in the US and it also oversees the wonderful Seattle-Tacoma international Airport where I spend entirely too much time. Particular interests also include economic development projects throughout Southeast Asia, our poor planning, and the regionalization of Puget Sound ports. Other current interests and areas for advocacy include issues related to poverty and education. And I have to say that I thought his resume was really one of the very coolest ones I have seen. I particularly love seeing that he is an attorney to interesting grandfathered clients. I think that's the way to be a lawyer. So I just want to note that we are really honored to have you with us today. We admire your career so much. And I want to thank everybody for being here in the school of law and welcome Mr. Aronson to the podium. Thank you for coming.

Henry Aronson

Wow that was a terrific introduction. I can hardly hear what I've got to say. Two corrections: I am not serving on the Port commission now, happily. It would be a surprise to the current director, to Herb stirs who was my boss at VERA but I was a director of a project which I'll talk about in a minute. Thanks Dean for the kind introduction. The University, the law community and the bar and those of you that her students are particularly lucky to have Dean Testy is your Dean. I first learned of you from pals at Seattle University. They were chagrined when they lost you. You are lucky. And thanks to Michelle storms for the invitation to speak today. There may be a better law faculty position around, I'd be hard-pressed to know what it was. What an amazing opportunity to be the executive director of the William H Gates public service law scholarship program.

The invitation today followed from conversations that I had with a faculty member who stiff to me. Bill Bailey didn't come. Bill drawn to what he thought as an enormous amount of drama around many of my involvements passed my name onto Michelle thinking I'd come out and tell some war stories-something I decidedly didn't want to do. Stories invariably found their way into my draft. On reflection they provided the most effective way for me to talk about public service. Bigler and Michelle's invite, the opportunity to interact review students. There are a few things that bring me more joy. All the more so in the context of the Gates (inaudible)

Responding to Michelle's request for a title was easy. Click, click, send. Making a compelling case for questioning public service is tougher particularly to students who got here in part by submitting a mandatory personal statement demonstrating that you are committed to generous public service. Many thanks to Dean's testy and storms for giving me an hour to make my case, case built on personal experiences.

At the time I applied to law school I had no interest in being a lawyer. I was chasing a PhD in economics focused on the mechanisms of distributing risk. Given the pervasive lengths between the risks in law, constitutions, regulation, contracts for starters the law school offered a potential PhD minor and a career fallback position. I chose Yale for the crassest of reasons thinking that a prestige degree offered considerable cover to a public school kid from the Northwest. President Kennedy wryly commented at the time he was granted an honorary degree at Yale at the time that I received my degree saying it might be said now that I have the best of both worlds: a Harvard education in a Yale degree. It will become increasingly clear in the next few minutes this is without question the only carefully considered career decision I have made in my life.

In thinking about public service context is really important. You face a very different world from the one I faced on graduating law school 51 years ago. Trust me it seems like a long time to me as well. In thinking about how young our nation is I was shocked to note that the time between Abraham Lincoln's inauguration and my birth is less than the time between my birth and Barack Obama's inauguration. Attending Barack Obama's inauguration which my partner Anne Traver and I did was an extraordinary experience particularly to a kid who spent time as a civil rights lawyer in Mississippi, a stunning event.

I suspect that Dean testy would have found my law school class of 150 students somewhat diversity challenged. 144 white men, one third of whom graduated from Yale College, five women and two blacks: a brother and a sister, no Asians and Hispanics. Trivia: how many of you here know who Alan Dershowitz is? Alan was a classmate. Poor Alan, he was number two in our class. He had the ineffable bad luck of having young joy which for a classmate. Jan who received both a law and a PhD degree on the same day was our number one. I can't remember what Jan was called but Alan was affectionately known as a class-hole. The diversity challenge extended to our faculty: 41 white men, one white woman and one Filipino who held the title research associate and lecturer. We had one student publication: the law journal. Today that Yale Law School boasts nine law journals. Beyond legal aid, extracurricular interests included the Connecticut-based contraception litigation which gave rise to Griswold versus Connecticut, the church-state issue involving the crash of a local high school, urban renewal of downtown New Haven, aid for Yale nonacademic staff and the riveting challenge to the dress code in the undergraduate dining room. My recollection is the coat and tie rule vaporized immediately following the arrival of the group in literal compliance. I have no recollection of the words or the concept public service. Looking back I am stunned that we were unaware that our black classmate George Smith slipping away from New Haven heroically participated in the freedom rides. There was no discussion after the freedom rides. George was down there. His bus was blown to smithereens. Everyone was arrested. Many were beaten. There was no mention.

From the students perspective 1962 was a good time to graduate from law school. That was not an issue. Jobs were easy to find in law firms and corporations but they weren't so interested and for the elite clerkships and teaching. I'd like to claim that I post law school professional and personal choices resulted from a lifetime of thoughtful evaluations of risks and rewards based on a Venn diagram which incorporated values, ethics, passions, incentives etc.-If only.

A career counselor recruiter reviewed the choices I made during my first couple of years during law school as a joke. About six months before graduation accepted a job in a two-person law firm in Denver Colorado, geographic compromise with my very soon ex-wife. Neither of us would consider the other's hometown of Omaha or Seattle. I'm not the most reasonable guy in the world but Omaha? Having studied for the Colorado bar I stayed and took the exam before taking off. Without a game plan or responsibilities to others it made a perfectly good sense to me to hang out in Europe for a while. I stopped in Madison Wisconsin en route where I had received an MBA in law school to visit an old girlfriend then on the faculty at the school of Art at the University of Wisconsin. The confluence of romantic visit gone intensely well and a former professor receiving a that Ford foundation grant to research a subject that I knew a bit about led to a research appointment at the University of Wisconsin. I think of it as a funded affair.

Barely settled then, I received a call from John Feiler General Counsel and soon-to-be CEO of the Aetna life insurance company. I had turned down an Aetna offer, it was the end of my second summer and I had to work and I was in Connecticut and I worked at the Aetna. At the time it was offered a job on graduating. I candidly told John that I liked him a lot but I found the law department stultifying. It was inconceivable that I would go to work there. During the second attempt to recruit me John explained that the Aetna's reliance on trade associations for state and national legislative representation lobbying wasn't serving the Aetna's interest which increasingly differed from those of the industry and he offered me an opportunity to identify those issues and propose responses. It sounded like fun, 50 states and Washington.

I accepted the job on two conditions: I would not have to start until the end of the year permitting time to hitchhike from Paris to Jerusalem in the second condition that the Aetna would not oppose Medicare. Medicare was then being debated and I strongly believed in it. The senior senator from Connecticut at the time was Abraham Ribikoff he was the main supporter. It would have been sheer suicide for the Aetna to oppose it in any event and they didn't.

In June of 64 six months into a job I found challenging and fun I received a call from Alan Levine, my best friend in law school. Alan asked if I would be willing to spend a week in the South as a volunteer attorney in support of civil rights workers. Clueless about what was going on in the South I was always open to Alan suggestions and said yes-skiing in Barrington, lawyering in the South. I went to John Feiler. He was agreeable but said let's talk to Al caught Smith Chairman. He said you know something goes wrong I just want to be covered. Smith was amazing. Hearing the request he jumped out of his chair, put his arm around my shoulder, said to John send him and the company plane. My daughter is a volunteer and I am delighted to have a lawyer nearby. I didn't take the company plane. I did go to Selma Alabama where I had the stuffing beat out of me by the infamous Sheriff Jim Clark.

For those of you that read history, Jim Clark was the fellow that use cattle prods on kids, forcing them to March in effect saying if you want to demonstrate let's demonstrate. In a typical kids and help out of the mountain to the cotton field. The experience changed my life forever. The summer of 1964 freedom summer was based on the strategy brilliantly conceived by Bob Moses of massively recruiting white kids from the North. Bob believed the nation would not confront the segregated South until whites were at risk. Response to Bob's call 1000 Northern college students and hundreds of volunteer lawyers led by a cadre of hardened, SNCC and CORE civil rights workers spread out across Mississippi registering voters, holding freedom school for kids, generally getting in segregationist faces at every opportunity they had for the entire... Collateral damage is huge: murders, countless beatings, thousands of arrests, 50 black churches burned to the ground, hundreds of black citizens fired and families evicted for supporting the movement. While the price was high for three the maximum price, I believe Bob got it right. He said in process and irreversible process of change.

Following my beating by Jim Clark LCDC the group responsible for bringing down volunteer lawyers withdrew me from Selma for my own protection and sent me to Memphis where I spent the summer of 64 supporting volunteer lawyers and working the civil rights groups and local citizens throughout the northern third of Mississippi. This is my first demonstration. No one knew what they were doing. I didn't know what I was doing, the cops what they were doing. But our mere presence set a wave of fear in a funny way because they didn't know what we could or couldn't do. It was quite extraordinary. The Aetna couldn't have been more supportive. They kept me on salary. They brought me back to Harvard every Friday to clean off my desk and they never questioned how long I was going to stay.

Come September the students returned to the north to school. The lawyers returned to their practices the press a few exceptions went on to the next story and the summer's efforts were carried on by a small group of SNCC and CORE cadre workers. While hundreds of cases remained unresolved. For me leaving was not an option. Does SNCC mean anything to anybody in this room? Student nonviolent coordinating committee, probably the most famous public figure now would be John Lewis the Congressman from Georgia who is the chairman of SNCC, an extraordinarily brave fellow. CORE was the Congress of racial equality, similar kind of organization, older not students but SNCC and CORE are central to that time in the South.

As I say the experience was indescribable. I had experienced for the first time in my life an opportunity to engage such talent as I have 24/7 in the service of something I believed in to the core—fighting segregation, lawlessness, malady, fear. The experience awakened in me an indescribable sense of wonder, wonder at the power of participating in something so large, so important, so fundamental. Thanks to Jack Greenberg—Thurgood Marshall's successor—at the legal defense fund I was hired to join the incredible Marian Wright doubling the capability of the legal defense fund’s full-time presence in Mississippi. Marion has gone on to great stuff. How many of you know who Marion is question mark she's Marion Wright Edelman now. Does that name mean anything to anybody in the room? She went to Mississippi and started the children's Defense fund. Hillary Clinton clerked for Marion at one time in her career. Very extraordinary. We worked together for three years.

The Mississippi I moved to in 1964, 10 years after the Brown decision, does anybody here know what the Brown decision is? Remain totally segregated. Not one black kid went to school with a white kid, no black law enforcement, no blacks employed with other than menial levels in the public or private sector. Over the next three years we litigated, negotiated, desegregated and most importantly delivered hope and visibility coupled with a modicum of access to justice for thousands of the most particularly to the young.

(inaudible)…on the slide there would be a really typical night that we would go out to the churches throughout the state, probably was a group of people…crack at desegregating the…burned out after three years I moved to the Legal Defense Funds office in New York, coordinating schools desegregation, while looking for the next stop. This was a gift…(inaudible24:29)…23 kids went to the hospital—one black kid who was a paraplegic. I was treated similarly…and the only thing that stopped it was ABC, NBC, and CBS zeroed in while these guys were taking a shot at me and they didn’t want to see themselves excessively on the night news.

My next move to the VERA Institute of Justice was as carefully planned as my move south. VERA, the creation of the amazing Herb Stearns was a lean, strategic, uncommonly effective laboratory for testing approaches to changing the way criminal justice is administered. Having recently been the catalyst for institutionalizing release on recognizance as an alternative to cash bail, VERA created the gold standard of change to which all other aspire. VERA’s work gave rise to just a handful of students, not much different than people sitting in this room, creating what were known as ties to the community and demonstrating that people left out on their recognizance returned at a higher rate than people that were released on cash bail. And gave rise to the 1965 bail reform act which changed the way that…treated in terms of their opportunity to get free, their right to bail.

I had the phenomenal good fortune to meet Herb shortly after VERA had received a virtually unrestricted grant of $500,000 from the Department of Labor, a sign of the times. The grant was driven by the department of labor’s need to either use or lose the money, prior to the rapidly arriving end of the fiscal year. Herb asked if I’d be interested in building a project around the grant somehow or another connecting the administration of justice to jobs.

One could not have asked for more than Herb as a boss, VERA as a home and a mandate to be smart, strategic…looking back, coming up with an alternative to an assembly line that provided 18-25 year old mostly black and Puerto Rican dropouts with their first credential a recorded conviction seems pretty simple. The alternative , which our staff designed, and which Herb gave me full reign to implement and test became known as the Manhattan Court Employment Project a mechanism for delivering jobs and counseling as an alternative to trial and incarceration. The project introduced the word and practice of diversion to the administration of justice and served as the model for introducing diversion into virtually every justice system in…systemic change, it’s clearly the biggest thing I’ve ever…And for me, there was a sense of incredible joy at having an opportunity to be totally engaged in something that I so believed in you.

As the project the MCEP was preparing to be adopted by the city of New York my serendipitous career planning genii surfaced again in the form of a call from Charlie Nesson, a young Harvard law school faculty member. The year was 1970, the height of the Vietnam War. Following our initial exchange, a bit testy—Charlie asking how I would like to move to Vietnam and I responding by asking Charlie how he would like to commend impossible sexual act—Charlie laid out a really interesting story and an offer. A number of Charlie students were Vietnam vets described how basic civil rights and liberty that they were learning about at the Harvard law school were being violated in courts-martial on which they sat particularly when race or antiwar beliefs were at issue. These stories were confirmed and amplified by Bill Holman, a much-respected Boston lawyer who traveled to Vietnam to represent a Boston area soldier. Sensing a real need, Charlie and his Harvard law school colleague John Mansfield raised funds to support a four-person office in Saigon to defend servicemen and instances where civil rights or civil liberties were at issue… And the other lawyers set up an office in Saigon demonstrated that civilian lawyers can provide effective representation…

Charlie gave us a real leg up. My board consisted of five people: the Dean of the Harvard law school, the Dean of the Yale Law school, Ramsey Clark X Atty. Gen. the United States, Ed Sherman who is been the leading military law professor he was in Indiana, and Bert Marshall a great lawyer also went on to Yale Law School. The impact and leverage of our band of four committed, skilled, media-savvy, backed up lawyers vastly exceeded our number both on our clients 8000 miles from home, that entirely are on their own without any support, caught up in war and system that they neither supported nor understood. One of those clients is in this room. Are you here Pete I don’t have my glasses…remind me that I had sent Joe Rimshaw one of our lawyers up to defend Pete who was then a marine in Denang.

We had an equally significant effect on the command structure that had nightmares about its excesses being exposed. This was taken up at Camp Eagle…wonderful guys…conscientious objectors and the army in its brilliance, supposed to be put on noncombatant status. The army, in their brilliance, threw him on a helicopter and send them to fire support base Birmingham in active combat. The Col. lost his job the week that this ran in Time magazine.

So many times I would call up someone and say Col. I represent so and so, oh Mr. Aronson we’ve just dropped charges. We had an extraordinary, we did some good lawing too, but we had this kind of, it was kind of like Rommel in North Africa. They were just scared spitless of it. I loved it frankly.

At this point it’s fair to ask what relevance do these stories that Bill Bailey so wanted me to tell you, what relevance does this have to you guys? Mississippi during the heights battles they were black and white, literally and figuratively. I took this picture outside the greyhound bus depot. Taking a generously funded whack at systemic change within the courts system and demonstrating that access to justice could be delivered in a war zone that no one in their right mind would attempt to replicate today in Afghanistan. My answer is simple as to the relevance. You didn’t have to get the hell beat out of you or travel to a war zone half way around the world to learn about the extraordinary power and importance and vilirating rewards that public service has to offer. Rather like air and water you have been engaged in a lifelong public service immersion course whether you liked it or not. I was not entirely honest in saying I had not performed any public service before going South. In pulling together these materials I tripped upon an incriminating document that I received when I went to Mountlake Grade School. If you were enrolled in Mountlake my alma mater today, and this is a grade school its website advises that you can participate in penny harvest, a program which shows students they have the ability to make the world a better place by introducing them to the power of philanthropy and service during their formative years. You can participate in Green Time or in the opportunity to work in small groups to research and write green articles that are related to the environment.

Get into law school today the importance of public service is right up there I assume with GPAs and LSATs and graduates must perform 60 hours of public service to get out of here. I would not be surprised to hear if some of your law school applications claimed that you were conceived as an act of public service or at a minimum some form of pre-kindergarten stellar activity. Had I experienced the power, the potential, and the rewards of public service prior to graduating from law school assuming the Denver compromise was in place I like think I would explore public service opportunities before accepting that job with the two person law firm. Which leads me to three relatively recent local involvements: bending the monorail, creating a driver-owned taxi cooperative, and a work in process—the resurrection of a military career of a Medal of Honor recipient who has performed more public service than anyone I will ever know. Each provides a framework for thinking about public service pathways.

First the monorail: Roughly ten years ago a populace group led by Dick Falkenbury an unemployed cabdriver who I like a lot succeeded in passing a series of voter approved initiatives to create an elevated monorail to run through downtown Seattle between Ballard and West Seattle. Intrigued by audacious claims made by monorail supporters including removal of 50% of the buses from the street on the proposed court order I sought out the views of urban planners, transportation geeks, architects and elected officials with knowledge about the project. Without exception, they all thought it was loony. The project was perceived by the public as a fun project and was not taken seriously by those in a position to form an effective loonyness-based opposition. For Simpsons fans think Marge against the monorail. Following voter approval the project was hijacked by a group of grossly overpaid charlatans who spent their days entering into an planning contracts, consultants valued at tens of millions of dollars often without open bidding and out of public view. While transportation urban planning professionals and enlightened elective officials agreed that stopping the project was essential to preserve Seattle's built environment and to fund rational transportation projects in the future no one stepped forward. Outraged I followed Ron Emmanuelle’s advice to never let a good crisis go to waste. A cadre of sophisticated allies were recruited. Funding to support a small staff was raised. Unrelenting 24/7, 3 year effort to bring the project to an end was unleashed. Political junkies think of the film war room. And we succeeded delivering a technical knockout in the form of a ballot that was held essential rights of way from the highflying charlatans. Bring the project to a screeching halt and preserving the built environment in funding sources for future transportation options. It is important that I note I am a total supporter and a frequent consumer public transportation. The monorail was an amusement park ride posing as public transportation.

Creation of WATT: Kamal Saleem an Algerian taxi driver acquaintance asked me to check out a rumor that the city was going to give away 15 to 20 taxi licenses. A quick call confirmed the city Council was considering granting a taxi licenses to test whether a wheelchair accessible taxi service at regular meter rates was a viable business model. Similar after Kamal and I along with a significant number of the primarily Somalian and Ethiopian taxi driver community attended a public hearing held to learn about these licenses. Interest was extensive and intense, driven in large part by the fact that the licenses had a potential street value of $300,000 each once they are renewed. On the way out of the meeting Kamal asked if I would help them get a license. I wasn't drawn to the idea of helping one fellow get one license but I was intrigued by the longshot opportunity of a driver-owned co-op to make a run a getting a licenses. I respond to Kamal's request with a counter proposal. Kamal would assemble eight drivers who would be willing to form a co-op for the purpose of applying as a group all eight licenses and thereafter cooperatively owning, dispatching and maintaining the cabs I'd be delighted to assist. Kamal formed a group of amazingly bright, energetic and enthusiastic drivers. I assembled a team of advisors including a legal intern from the loss here in the business and turn from the Foster school of business. Our team guided the formation of the co-op, draft the application which led to the award of eight licenses to Kamal. The rewards for all was outsized the drivers became effective self-governing entrepreneurs. The wheelchair community’s access to affordable transportation was significantly increased. The law and business school interns gain invaluable technical teambuilding experience. And all were richly rewarded with the opportunity to engage their time and skills towards achieving a shared goal.

Resurrecting Will Swenson's career: serving as a captain on his third Mideast appointment will Swenson's team was ambushed in the early morning of September 8, 2009 fall in route to meet with village elders in the conjugal Valley Kumar province Afghanistan. At the end of that day Will's request for artillery support to protect his men was denied. Four comrades lost their lives. A fifth would lose his life a month later. Will made repeated trips under fire in an unarmed pickup vehicle in and out of the Valley extricating survivors and one of Will’s fellow soldiers had submitted Will’s name for the Medal of Honor. In the year following the battle Will, outraged by the loss of comrades which he attributed to the denial of the request for artillery support, pointedly and publicly held the senior command David Petraus included and by name responsible for the lack of support. Thereafter his Medal of Honor packet was mysteriously lost. Routine career guidance and support was withheld. And Will was left to cool his marginalized heels for the remainder of his commitment. He didn't take what seems like retribution well, retribution for speaking out. He resigned his commission, holed up in his family cabin on Bainbridge Island and spent the next two years seeking to have those responsible for withholding artillery support punished from top to bottom. Will was remarkably successful. Gen. Petraus was investigated by the Pentagon. Officers responsible for withholding artillery support were disciplined the medal of honor packet was mysteriously found, president Obama awarded Will the medal of honor on October 15, 2013. My friendship with Will was formed while he was a student at Seattle U. I strongly supported his decision to join the army and followed his career closely. Shortly after President Obama announced the Medal of Honor I called to congratulate him and ask what his next act was and specifically was he considering going back into the army. Will paused…that he didn’t know, that he was pleased that Generals Petraus and McCristo were gone. He said it’s conceivable that he would consider returning to…provided that the investigations of those involved were brought to fruition, provided that this comrades were treated properly, provided that he was reinstated at the level he would have been had he not been forced to resign. Based on that exchange we struck a deal. I’d represent Will to achieve…exchange for his picking up the odd Thai lunch check. He knew to be fully engaged pursuing Will Swenson’s objectives, both at the formal level complying with the department of defense’s numbing regulations and informally dealing with the army’s very senior command. My informed prediction is that Will will soon be reinstated as a promotable…the only active duty office in any United States service with…in the very competitive army language school to which he’s…Gongugal, well on his way to a fulfilling career…indescribable honor to have had the opportunity and to have had the opportunity…sitting in the front row.

Each of these enormously fulfilling engagements—the monorail, Kamal’s Taxi co-op, Will Swenson—followed from my identifying and responding to public service opportunity.

Public service junkie in search of a fix: Talk of public service is well and good but like a hanging in the morning, nothing focuses the mind like the need to get a job or pay off a debt. I appreciate that each of you…real world challenges. Statistics like those put out by the American Bar Association: only 55% of 2012’s graduates were employed full-time in law jobs. The average education debt for a public school law grad in 2011 was $75,000. This all becomes very personal when looking for a job and juggling a debt. That said, my experience has been that very good ideas both public and private get funded, all the more with the advent of Crowd Sourcing, Kickstarter and its progeny. My take is that your overarching challenge will be to identify opportunity, paid and unpaid, to provide a vehicle to apply your core skills and your knowledge and your zeal, things you do, know, and like the best and the service is something you really believe in. If you want it to be really self-indulgent, go for the trifecta: work you love, partner with someone you love in a community you really care about. Take it from someone that’s been there, it doesn’t get better. Thanks.

Last updated 7/11/2014