Roberta often talks about what it means to be an “American lawyer.” In her lexicon, it means much more than merely being a lawyer admitted to practice law in at least one state. And, while high ethical standards are a necessary condition for meeting Roberta’s “American lawyer” definition, they are far from a sufficient condition.
Being an “American lawyer” means a great deal more. It means doing the right and courageous thing even when not doing so would be legal and ethical as well. It means acting at all times in ways that will make our legal system stronger and more respected.
It is admittedly difficult to come up with a full definition of what it means to be an “American lawyer” and it is understandable that many respected lawyers would disagree about some of the elements. But I have no doubt that everyone would agree that nobody exemplifies the ideal of the “American lawyer” better than Roberta. She is the quintessential “American lawyer.” And, for that, the ALI and so many other institutions are so grateful!
-Richard L. Revesz, ALI Director