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Ken Star spoke as part of the
Dean's Legal Scholar Lecture Series.
Ken Starr, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, was the distinguished guest speaker for the first Dean’s Scholar Lecture Series at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, held Tuesday, March 30, 2010.
Starr, who as independent counsel in the 1990s investigated the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky matters, will become president of Baylor University this summer. Sporting an appropriately green and gold tie, Starr first spoke to students, faculty and staff at the law school and then spoke at a luncheon at the Fort Worth Club.
At the law school, Starr spoke about a wide range of topics, from the legal system of Uganda to his first pro bono
case to the death penalty, all under the umbrella theme of “A Call to Serve.”
“You’re entering a profession that is under a lot of stress and has been for a number of years,” Starr said. “Those of us who have been in the profession for a number of years really lament this….We feel as though something has been lost. But you’re reclaiming it, and that reclamation, that restoration of the profession, is embodied in the call to serve.”
Starr told the audience about his first pro bono
case, in which he used courtesy and the simple hand of friendship to resolve the case.
“As you progress in your careers, you will find that pro bono
work [will provide some of] the most precious memories in your work as a professional,” Starr said.
Starr emphasized that the ‘call to serve’ does not apply only to pro bono
or public sector work. “It may be that the call to serve is entirely in the community,” as a pillar of the community, he said.
After the lecture, he took questions from students on a variety of topics, including the First Amendment. “The freedom to speak is meaningless if we won’t protect unpopular speech,” Starr said.
At noon, Starr addressed about 170 members of the local legal community and other friends of Texas Wesleyan at the Fort Worth Club. Tim Carter, president and CEO of OmniAmerican Bank, president of The Fort Worth Club and Texas Wesleyan trustee, welcomed him.
Starr spoke about two recent Supreme Court cases, one recently decided and one currently before the court. Starr noted that he agreed with the majority opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
, which allows corporations to spend their own money to support candidates, though not through direct donations to a campaign.
Starr also talked about Christian Legal Society v. Martinez
, for which the Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments. The case questions whether it is unconstitutional for a public university to bar a student religious group from official status if the group limits its officers to those who accept its religious beliefs.
Starr also took questions from the audience, including a question about Liz Cheney’s recent ad attacking U.S. Justice Department lawyers who had previously defended detainees at Guantánamo Bay. “The ad got me frankly all riled up,” Starr said, “because it was an attack on lawyers….We in law school need to inculcate in our young lawyers the willingness to take on unpopular causes. To do it honorably, to do it zealously, because one of the great things about this country [is that] everyone has the right to representation.”
Ken Starr with members of the Student Bar Association.