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Marquette's Punishment of Dental Student for Things He Wrote on His Blog:

The Dean reaffirms it, though he reduces the punishment (from suspension to probation plus a mandated apology and 100 hours of community service). I stand by my initial criticism of the school's actions, though I'm glad that the punishment was at least reduced.

Thanks to reader Connie Conine for the pointer.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Marquette's Punishment of Dental Student for Things He Wrote on His Blog:
  2. Marquette Suspends Dental Student for Things He Wrote on His Blog,
Public_Defender:
In professional schools, there should be a sub-disciplinary system for behavior (or speech) that is unprofesional, but doesn't violate the usual rules of student behavior.

This student's comments were juvenile, undignified and unprofessional. He shouldn't have faced any discipline, but he should have been strongly encouraged to apologize. The apology should have ended the matter.

In law school, deans can enforce the sub-disciplinary counseling by refusing to give a character certification to the local bar authorities if the student does not demonstrate an understanding of the requirments of the profession he or she is entering. Maybe there is a similar process in dental schools.

In any case, Marquette's response was heavy-handed and less professional than what the student did. The thin-skinned administration should be issuing its own apology.
1.6.2006 6:48pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
"This student's comments were juvenile, undignified and unprofessional."

It was a blog. I understand that to be the point. Particularly on a blog shared chiefly with friends.

"In law school, deans can enforce the sub-disciplinary counseling by refusing to give a character certification to the local bar authorities if the student does not demonstrate an understanding of the requirments of the profession he or she is entering. Maybe there is a similar process in dental schools."

I'm very leary of this, given the rise of "disposition" criteria at some schools. I certainly suspect my law school's muckity-mucks might view some of my opinions as inappropriate for a lawyer, just as I view theirs as inappropriate for a law school. Do we really want to encourage these people? I'd be concerned that enforcement of dignity, maturity, and professionalism would be a thinly-disguised excuse for conformity.
1.6.2006 7:08pm
Splunge (mail):
Surely a dental school can think up a more creative punishment than a Note On Your Permanent Record.
1.6.2006 7:36pm
Public_Defender:
I'd be concerned that enforcement of dignity, maturity, and professionalism would be a thinly-disguised excuse for conformity.
Welcome to the legal profession.

Law students need to get used to the idea that in some ways, they are not as free as other citizens to express every thought that crosses their mind, even in blogs (perhaps especially in blogs).

Sometimes judges are thin-skinned jerks and deserve to be called thin-skinned jerks to their faces. But most practicing lawyers know better.

If you can't deal professionally with unfair, arbitrary power, don't become a lawyer. One of the most important skills a lawyer has is when to withhold a well-deserved insult (or how to phrase the insult in a way that does not invite professional discipline).

When you become a lawyer, you enter a profession with a higher standard. Maybe that's not the case with dentistry.
1.6.2006 7:40pm
JohnAnnArbor:
When you become a lawyer, you enter a profession with a higher standard.

I'll believe that when they stop filing frivolous lawsuits and stop "judge-shopping" and "venue-shopping" for particular judges or juries. I'll believe that when they police their own who do things like line up thousands of medically unaffected "asbestos victims" and get friendly radiologists to certify them "sick" in order to get undeserved payments--and draining money that should go to people who were genuinely hurt by asbestos in industry. Et cetera.
1.6.2006 7:56pm
Splunge (mail):
When you become a lawyer, you enter a profession with a higher standard.

It's weird that most ordinary folks don't agree, isn't it?
1.6.2006 8:34pm
Steve:
It's questionable what percentage of the public's increased scorn for lawyers in recent years derives from the shady conduct of lawyers, and what percentage derives from concerted efforts to demonize them, most often by the political right.
1.6.2006 8:53pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Steve,

The asbestos issue alone, and the lack of concern about it by the legal profession, is enough to convince many that they're not interested in justice or policing themselves, only money.
1.6.2006 9:10pm
WB:
I don't think that demonization of lawyers is uniquely from the left or the right.

The "right" trashes plaintiffs' lawyers for filing frivolous suits and trying to coerce businesses with large pockets into forking over money not by threatening to pursue meritorious claims, but by threatening to annoy them with lawsuits and the spectre of being able to con a jury into finding liability.

The "left" trashes prosecutors who abuse their discretion by prosecuting innocents or harmless people who are on the wrong side of a technicality. They also trash lawyers who defend tobacco companies and oil companies and corporate behemoths not with meritorious arguments, but by trying to pressure ignorant plaintiffs into signing their rights away, by trying to threaten smaller firms with wars of attrition, and by twisting the law to protect their clients from accountability for hurting people.

The man on the street trashes lawyers for their arrogance, self-importance, pettiness, and moral turpitude.

Those who work in the judiciary trash lawyers for their incompetence, self-importance, and the way in which they abuse the trust of their clients by collecting money to pursue clear losing arguments.

Those who interact with lawyers socially might note that by and large, they are uncreative, insecure and always comparing resumes, driven, and often retreat into their work when they can't handle the rest of their lives.

Those who run the country notice that lawyers don't actually produce anything, but merely move money from one place to another and may in fact be a net drain on society. At best, they are a necessary evil, as sharp plaintiffs' lawyers keep evil corporations in check, and sharp corporate lawyers keep greedy plaintiffs' lawyers in check, and if people just did the right thing in the first place, all of the litigating lawyers would be out of jobs.

Lawyers who are in more "ethically neutral" territory and represent large corporations against other large corporations are merely glorified i-bankers, but the investments take the form of lawsuits instead of stock purchases.

And lawyers trash other lawyers too.

Public interest lawyers trash big firm lawyers as being soulless.

Big firm lawyers trash public interest lawyers as being just like them but unable to get higher-paying jobs.

And at least one academic thinks it's a profession full of whores.


Much of this is oversimplification, of course, but it's just to illustrate the point that lawyer-animosity comes from a bunch of different sources and isn't merely a by-product of an aspect of the agenda of one political party or another.
1.6.2006 9:51pm
John Jenkins (mail):
If people did the right thing in the first place, the fucking Tooth Fairy would be flying by my window giving the Easter Bunny a ride to Santa's house for Bigfoot's birthday bash.

I love that my chosen profession is equally demonized by people on both the left and the right...until someone tramples on their rights.
1.6.2006 10:31pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Oh, and Balkin isn't saying all lawyers are whores. He's saying that any lawyer who disagrees with him must be one because Jack Balkin is the all-knowing arbiter of all that is good and righteous in the world. Say what you want about people like Pat Robertson, at least they think someone ELSE is God (even if they think they know what He wants).
1.6.2006 10:34pm
Greg523:
Here is why most people hate lawyers:

This was written by Mike Royko in 1997

"Anyone who works on a newspaper and takes calls and complaints from readers will tell you that in a dispute between a restaurant and customer, the restaurant is always wrong and the customer is always a victim.

That's because it's always the angry customer who phones with the gripe. So naturally, they tell it their way.

But that may be changing. At least in this space.

I recently did a couple of columns on the Chicago yuppie who had the hassle with a Lake Geneva, Wis., restaurant because he thought the steak he ordered medium-well was actually well done, and he sued everyone in sight -- the restaurant, a cop, the town of Lake Geneva and the town's mayor.

It wound up in federal court, where he lost and was ordered to pay the legal bills of everybody he sued. Now he is going to the Supreme Court.

That story has prompted some restaurant owners and employees to come out of the kitchen, so to speak. And they are telling me about customers who are really terrible people.

As I get these stories, I'm going to try to balance the scales of journalistic justice.

We'll begin today with Sara Roignant, who, with her chef-husband, owns La Creperie, at 2845 N. Clark St.

Sara has a policy of giving dining gift certificates to various local charities. The charities use them in the silent auctions so popular at fundraisers.

Sara says: "Something happened last night that was very upsetting.

"I was home -- we live upstairs of the restaurant -- when I got a call from one of the waitresses. She said there are people here and they don't want to pay for their dinner.

"They said they had gift certificates for $30. I give about 10 certificates a week. These were from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. They were two years old but there's no expiration date, so that's OK. Now the new ones are for $40 because our prices went up.

"The waitress was in a tizzy. Each certificate was worth $30. But their bill was $111.50, so they owed $51, plus tip. They gave the waitress the gift certificate when they came in and said they were going to use these tonight. She told them what they were worth. There were four of them. They had a two bottles of wine, soup, salad, escargot, several crepes with extra fillings, chicken curry dinners and two teas.

"I said to her, `Explain, I'm sure they'll understand.' My husband tried to talk to them and he told me to come down. I went down and said, `I'm sorry that you misunderstood. Maybe you ordered without knowing.' I tried to be logical. I said you can't eat and drink as much as you want. We donate these certificates. We can't afford to give out $110 meals every week.'

"They let me know that they were lawyers. They were, at most, 30 years old. They were very well dressed. They said they didn't have to pay because it said it's worth $30 on the back, not on the front. I said, `It says on the donor form that you got with the certificates that they were worth $30.'

"They said, `We're lawyers and it's not on the front, so we're not paying. We don't have to.'

"One of them told me he was going to sue me. He knew before he came in that he would make a legal issue of it.

"I was intimidated and shocked that it could be a legal thing, and that they insisted they could have all the food and wine they wanted because it says dinner for two.

"Well, dinner for two means you can have an entree, soup or salad and dessert. It's usually so much food that people don't want anything more.

"They told me that I didn't have a leg to stand on in court. They were adamant about the legality of it. I said, `I don't want to pay for a lawyer but I don't want to pay for the rest of your dinner. We can't make you come back and do the dishes because you're not paying.' They laughed at me. I told them: `What does Shakespeare say? "The first thing we do is kill the lawyers.'' ' I didn't know what else to say but `You stuck it to me.'

"They wouldn't give me their names. I said, `I didn't get your names' and they just laughed. They were so arrogant and cold. They thought we wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

"We've been in business here for 25 years and nothing like this has ever happened. I give out 10 of these a week, worth $400. It is how I give to charity. Now I have to get a lawyer to write me up a legal gift certificate so I don't get taken every night?

"Today I called the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and they said they had no record of who these people were.

"Is this what the world is coming to, where you are trying to do something for someone and all they are thinking about is a lawsuit? Now you have to be so careful that you can't give things away to charity for fear of repercussions.''

Then Sara said: "Do you have any suggestions as to what I might do?''

No, but swine like these often brag about their swinishness. So if anyone knows who they are, give me a call at the Trib. I'd really love to interview them about gracious dining."
1.6.2006 11:04pm
Public_Defender:
There are jerks in every job and profession. But did you notice that it was a lawyer who called for lawyers to be held to higher standards?

Professional groups and professional schools should do their best to encourage professional behavior by their members (or students).

Marquette should have pushed this dental student to apologize, and that should have ended the matter.
1.7.2006 8:27am
Splunge (mail):
There are jerks in every job and profession.

Now if only it were possible to reason logically from this truism to the conclusion that the same percentage of people in every job and profession are jerks...
1.7.2006 7:24pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Given that most lawyers are working at a desk every day doing legal research and no one ever hears a damn thing from them or about them, it's unreasonable to draw ANY inferences from what you see on TV or read in the papers (or on the internet for that matter).
1.7.2006 8:10pm
Public_Defender:
There are jerks in every job and profession.

Now if only it were possible to reason logically from this truism to the conclusion that the same percentage of people in every job and profession are jerks...
Of course, there's really no evidence either way. But others have suggested that there's a particular problem in the legal profession. It's there job to back up the assertion with more than two lawyers in Chicago and a third lawyer who took a stupid case to court, lost, and was ordered to pay the other side's fees.

As to the profession policing itself, contact your state's bar association or high court, and see for yourself how frequently lawyers get disciplined.

But back to the dental school. The School has a responsibility to teach its students to act professionally.

This student was a class-A arrogant jerk to his classmates. And although the administrators revealed themselves to be both thin-skinned and ego-driven, the student owes multiple apologies. He also needs to grow up a little.

Basically, both the student and the school deserve each other.
1.8.2006 3:45pm
amn (mail):
I agree with the majority that the Marquette administration is in the wrong here, but I would like to point out that he would have been fired from the vast majority of jobs for saying the same thing about his boss and coworkers.
1.9.2006 10:51am