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
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
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