The Corner

Responding to May on Stimson

Cliff, if there is evidence that lawyers are receiving under-the-table payments for services that are advertised as pro bono services, I would like to see it.  Ditto if there is evidence that they are receiving money from foreign governments.  To date, however, I have seen nothing but innuendo to this effect.  Yes, some unsavory governments retain many lobbyists and lawyers in D.C., but I have seen no evidence of the connection between this and the allegedly pro bono representation of detainees. 

Why are attorneys at bigt firms eager to represent detainees?  I don’t think it’s because they are getting paid off. I also don’t think that it is because most of them harbor secret, anti-American sentiments (though some may).  Rather, I believe it is a combination of a) a desire to work on sexy, high profile issues that are more exciting than the cases on which they bill most of their hours, anbd b) a sometimes-misguided sense of noblesse oblige combined with a desire to “make a difference.”

I agree with you that Stimson would still have his job if he had complained about the quantity or quality of detainee representation, but I don’t think it’s because such a comment would have a different political slant.  While Stimson was attacked for his comments from some of the usual liberal quarters, he also attracted immediate fire from the Right because, as I’ve attempted to explain, his comments were particularly inappropriate for a government attorney with close connections to the litigation in question. 

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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