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Not honest enough for the California Bar? :-)

Q. Why are there so many toxic waste dumps in New Jersey and so many lawyers in California?

A. “Jersey” got FIRST PICK! :-)

Whiz kid Stephen Glass, who graduated in 2000 from Georgetown’s Law School and passed the New York and California bar exams is now working as a paralegal for a law firm in Beverly Hills. He wants to be a lawyer. His problem…? In his past, he was a “serial fabricator,” a compulsive liar.

Since when is being a liar (if he still IS one) a disqualification for being a lawyer in California? 😉

The latest installment in the infamous fabulist’s saga is contained in a thick file at the California Supreme Court. Opened to the public late last month, it finally offers an explanation for why Glass once felt driven to publish lie after lie, and then lie some more to cover it all up. But this case also raises some difficult questions: Can he, should he be forgiven? Is his redemption even possible? Or, once a liar, always a liar?

Before he was a paralegal, Stephen Glass was a journalist. He was FIRED from The New Republic. The CNN article provides details about his home life and family dynamics, while he was growing up. Glass disappointed his doctor father and nurse mother by not becoming a doctor. He further disappointed them by entering journalism.

The court file lists his final accounting: 43 fabricated articles, 36 of them in The New Republic. The others were published by: George, 3; Rolling Stone, 2, and a single freelance piece in Policy Review.

He went home to his family a basket case. He talked of suicide, and his parents kept a close eye on him. And then they suggested his firing was “an opportunity to go to medical school.”


The CNN article also speaks of the professional relationships of Stephen Glass and the personal relationship with Julie Hilden.

Glass has undergone extensive therapy — in Washington and New York, as well as in Los Angeles, where he still sees two therapists. He long ago ended his compulsive lying, they say, but he continues to work on rebuilding his life. As part of that process, he wrote his book and about 100 letters of apology to the people he harmed with his fabrications.

I occasionally joke that people who are not dishonest enough to become politicians RIGHT AWAY sometimes become LAWYERS for awhile to “hone their skills.” :-) Sadly, if the California Bar won’t take Glass, he may be TOO REFORMED at this point to enter politics!

It will be interesting to see the outcome at the California Supreme Court.

The case of Stephen Glass, if most of the reported details are true, confirms two things:

  1. the value of a GOOD reputation and the difficulty in “living down” a BAD reputation, and
  2. the long-lasting effects of damaging a child

I encourage you to read the CNN article and to draw your own conclusions.

-Bill at

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