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The Importance of Being Earnest

The California Supreme Court and Stephen Glass

Actually, when it comes to admission to the bar, being “earnest” isn’t enough. As the California Supreme Court recently reiterated, members of the bar must demonstrate good moral character, including the traits of “honesty, fairness, candor, trustworthiness, [and] observance of fiduciary responsibility.” The Court set out these standards for good moral character in connection with its ruling on the application to practice law submitted by disgraced former journalist Stephen Glass. The California Supreme court denied Mr. Glass’s application, despite his earnest insistence that he had turned his life around.  (The New Republic writer “made himself infamous as a dishonest journalist” by fabricating material, including fake supporting documentation, for dozens of published articles between 1996 and 1998. He committed some of his fraud while attending law school.)

The saga of Stephen Glass is juicy, but why am I writing about it in the context of our blog? Well, I found it interesting that Mr. Glass had been working as a paralegal for a number of years while seeking his bar admission. I certainly have the highest respect for the integrity of countless talented, hard-working paralegals who make invaluable contributions to the legal profession every day. Still, the distinction between a paralegal and a barred attorney remains important. And that distinction underlies DiscoverReady’s commitment to not staff our document review projects with anyone other than members of a bar in good standing.

Our clients entrust us with their most confidential and proprietary information. We believe that documents containing information this sensitive should not be reviewed by anyone who has not demonstrated the honesty, trustworthiness, and fiduciary judgment required for admission to the bar. We admire paralegals who ultimately reach that professional level. But while some companies and law firms will staff document reviews with paralegals, we do not. That means people like Mr. Glass, who fail to earn admission to the bar despite their law school education and legal work experience, simply are not ready for document review at DiscoverReady.

Maureen O'Neill