REP-PP Spring 201​7 Blog: Integrity

Blogger:  Jessica Lesnau

Law School Year:  ​​​3L
Placement:  Office of Immigration Litigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington D.C.

Jessica LesnauA diploma from Texas A&M carries far more weight than simply that of the paper it is printed upon. Embossed on each diploma is a seal that represents over a century of time-honored tradition, forged through the Aggie Core Values: excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service. If the values imprinted upon an A&M Law degree are any indication of the character of the person who receives it, I am not sure that a graduating law student could receive any greater distinction. The Aggie Core Values stand as pillars of support for an admirable career in the law.

The Core Values work in tandem, each gives rise to another; but integrity, in my opinion, is one of the most important. An integral part of the development of the lawyer-client relationship is a sense of trust. Through demonstrated integrity a lawyer lays the foundation for the client to trust in her abilities as an ethical advocate. I’ve seen that this remains true when the client is not a client in the traditional sense, but an institutional client. A government attorney, for instance, serves many clients, including federal agencies and, more importantly, the American people. Our government simply cannot operate according to the vision of its founders if its members—and especially its attorneys, charged with defending, interpreting, and shaping the laws—do not exemplify integrity. Indeed, government attorneys enter into a unique type of lawyer-client relationship.

A lawyer’s integrity proves not only to her clients, but also to her colleagues that she is someone who can be relied upon and respected as a leader in her profession. For attorneys at the Department of Justice, and throughout the federal government, this cannot be emphasized enough—attorneys in these roles hold special positions of public trust.

Throughout the beginning weeks of the Residency Externship Program in DC, we have been fortunate to hear from guest speakers representing a wide range of practices. I like to think (maybe naively so) that I can read a person’s character pretty well. No matter what position a person occupies, no matter how much money, power, or influence they hold, I find that I am more inclined to give credence to that person’s advice when they exhibit integrity. I’ve been fortunate to observe this quality not just through our speakers, but also through my interactions with my peers and my superiors in my placement at the Department of Justice – Office of Immigration Litigation. From day-to-day interactions with others in the office, to the thoughtful consideration of law and policy, integrity is a hallmark of the office.

Honesty, a commitment to living by one’s stated moral principles, and accountability are all ways in which I have observed those around me demonstrate integrity.