: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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What did Texas Tech See in Alberto Gonzales?

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has ended his rather public spell of unemployment with a new gig on the faculty of Texas Tech University as a visiting professor this fall. A bold move on Tech’s part. A Houston native, one senses Gonzales had to look further afield that one might have initially expected for a receptive audience. Tech, no stranger to controversial hires, thought it was worth a shot. I think they’re right. I envy Tech students the opportunity.

To the extent that we’re old enough to make up our own judgments, a faculty hire need not be seen as an endorsement. Whatever I may think of his tenure in office, I also believe he has had the rare chance to grapple with the issues of governance in our day as few have had the opportunity to do. Gonzales has been on the giving and receiving end in an increasingly politicized justice department, had to navigate the murky waters of distinguishing ones own moral limits from ones duties as an advocate and representative, and observed the mechanisms of power in very close quarters. There’s a lot one could learn from him. I am somewhat disappointed that the law school hasn’t seen fit to take advantage of his availability, at least not from any of the published reports; Gonzalez strikes me as having the opportunity, much like Robert McNamara did for a previous administration, of discussing ethics outside of the laboratory, in the way such dilemmas are experienced, rather than with the false piety of the professionally ethical.

Wendy Kopp on what makes a great teacher (perhaps a great lawyer as well?)

Caveat blog reader – this post is only tangentially related to the law. I’m perpetually fascinated with people who are able to do things are thought to be impossible. In Wendy Kopp’s case, I’m not sure which is more impressive: (a) generating measurable educational outcome improvements in schools populated in large part by students more likely to fail in more traditional environments or (b) turning teaching in the nation’s toughest schools into a prestigious and sought-after position.

I tend to think her thoughts, via a New York Times interview, on hiring people are transferable to other professions, perhaps ours:

We’ve done a lot of research on the characteristics of our teachers who are the most successful. The most predictive trait is still past demonstrated achievement, and all selection research basically points to that. But then there is a set of personal characteristics. And the No. 1 most predictive trait is perseverance, or what we would call internal locus of control. People who in the context of a challenge — you can’t see it unless you’re in the context of a challenge — have the instinct to figure out what they can control, and to own it, rather than to blame everyone else in the system.

Talent wins many battles; perserverance many wars.

Sign of the Times: “My whole practice is sitting on a 2-inch thumbdrive.”

National Law Journal has a remarkable story of a lawyer getting a deal done in the worst of circumstances in Heller Ehrman Vet Closes $3 Billion Deal Despite Firm Closure. My favorite line:

Outside of a few boxes of mementos, “my whole practice is sitting on a 2-inch thumbdrive,” Tonsfeldt says. “It holds 15 gigabytes, and I’m sure I didn’t even use a fraction of it.”

Memoir of John Hill as Texas Attorney General


Texas Lawyer brought my attention to the publication of Ernie Stromberger’s John Hill for the State of Texas. John Hill, who collaborated on the book before his death in 2007, also served as Secretary of State and Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court in his long career.

I had the pleasure of talking with Justice Hill before he passed on when I met him at a reception Winstead held for UH law students. He had a seemingly never ending reservoir of stories, but looking back the most remarkable aspect was that he never really let on who he was. He mentioned that he ‘had been a judge’ and had ‘worked for the state’ for a while. It would seem odd to describe such a larger-than-life personality as humble, but so he was.

Alternatives to Legal Careers: Snake Proofing


It’s good to know what you’re giving up when you embark on a career in law. Consider what you could have been, had your guidance counselor only informed you of the exciting opportunities available in the ‘snake-proofing’ of hunting dogs.

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