Standing Up for the Unpopular: The Perils and Rewards of Representing Disfavored Clients

A lawyer has a duty to zealously advocate on behalf of his or her clients, yet lawyers who represent unpopular clients can be lauded as champions of justice or unfairly vilified as accomplices to monsters. In our adversarial system, how can we guarantee justice for all if fear of reprisal chills attorney participation in controversial causes? In what contexts do criticisms of attorney representations arise, and are there an discernible patterns? What must be done to educate the bar and the public about the principles fundamental to our system of justice: all people and entities are entitled to representation, and such representations are not an endorsement of a client's view or conduct? How can controversial cases enrich a lawyer's practice and does it pose any risks? 
  • Ari Melber, Chief Legal Correspondent and Co-Host of "The Cycle" MSNBC
  • Debo Adegbile, Partner, WilmerHale
  • Pardiss Kebriaei, Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Burt Neuborne, Norman Dorsen Professor of Civil Liberties, New York University School of Law; Founding Legal Director, Brennan Center for Justice

ACS New York Constitution Day Luncheon

On September 17, the ACS honored its 2014 Keeping Faith with the Constitution honorees at its New York Constitution Day Luncheon. The honorees were Debo P. Adegbile of WilmerHale and Gregory B. Craig of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

During the luncheon Christine A. Varney of Cravath, Swaine & Moore and member of the National Board of Directors for the American Constitution Society moderated a discussion with the honorees. Caroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society provided an introduction.

The event featured a candid discussion between our honorees on the value of pro bono work and government service, highlighting what is at stake for lawyers who represent unpopular clients and why the legal community must publicly support lawyers who take on these challenging cases.