California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 2001
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - November 2001
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News / News Briefs
Applicants sought to oversee bar's diversion program
Let's have another cup of - legal advice
Foundation leads students to capital
Six honored for professional service
Warwick, six others named to California Judicial Council
Several thousand lawyers suspended for failing to pay dues, certify MCLE
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
From the President - Remembering the fallen
The rule of law is our strongest weapon
Pro bono work is lawyers' duty
Letters to the Editor
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Law Practice - Success: The top eight requirements
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
Planning for education expenses
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Lawyers move on in usual way despite disaster
Former city councilman spent his son's settlement
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment

OPINION

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The rule of law is our strongest weapon
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By ROBERT E. HIRSHON
President, American Bar Association
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Robert E. HirshonOur hearts go out to the victims of the unimaginable attack by terrorists and to their families. Among them are hundreds of people we know and with whom we have worked. We are bound together with them in that tragic moment.

Typical of our American way, those of us who are able want to help. I am heartened by the outpouring of support from lawyers and law firms, which immediately donated their time and energies. The lawyers of America want to assist victims and their families, as well as the many lawyers and friends who had offices in the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings. I  call upon all of our country's lawyers to put their skills to work to assist those who need help.

Immediately after the Sept. 11 attack, I contacted the leaders of the bar associations of New York City, New York State, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania to offer our support and assistance as they help their local members who have been affected by this tragedy.

I also asked the leaders of each of the ABA's 27 sections to help identify what the ABA can do to assist lawyers who will need to rebuild their practices so they can continue to serve their clients. The leaders of the ABA will review these ideas and develop a plan of action.

The ABA Law Student Division worked to organize a blood drive in each of their circuits.

The ABA Young Lawyers Division initiated its disaster recovery program, which it implemented in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

We also anticipate that help may be needed in other parts of the country where many of the airplane passengers resided. This is why I wrote to more than 300 state and local bar presidents to advise them of what the ABA is doing, to seek their ideas about what else needs to be done, and to offer to work with them in programs which they may develop.

The nature of this disaster is different from others we have known. We expect that victims and their families will need help in a variety of areas. We will do whatever we can to assist them.

I call on the lawyers of America to unite around the important principle that defines our society: the rule of law. At this time we need to help our communities contain their righteous anger. Unlike the cowardly and immoral terrorists who destroyed the lives of innocent men, women and children, our nation will pursue these criminals under a system that relies upon the rule of law.

Moreover, as lawyers we have a special obligation to remind our neighbors that the terrorists who were involved in these despicable acts are an extremist minority. It would be both unfair and un-American to indict an entire religious or ethnic group for the conduct of a very few.

The shocking events of last month demonstrate once again the frailty of human life and the precariousness of our democratic society. Yet the lawyers of America know that, despite its vulnerability to terrorism, the rule of law is our strongest weapon in the battle against anarchy and human destruction.

As we reaffirm our conviction in the fundamental values enshrined in our Constitution, this will be our nation's finest hour.