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Posing for a Playboy Video and a Would-Be Lawyer's "Character and Moral Fitness" Evaluation:

A reader pointed me to this story:

A Brooklyn law student who shed her briefs for a Playboy TV series may have to kiss off her career after the sexy video made its way into e-mail in-boxes all over the city....

The brainy blond with Ivy League credentials was looking for a lark last July when she answered a Craigslist ad for women to appear in the Playboy TV series "Naked Happy Girls."

The episode, called "Rock Star and the Lawyer," aired in January -- and was barely noticed.

But in the past three weeks, a 45-second clip spread on the Internet among students and some faculty at almost every New York law school....

If she applies for the New York State Bar this year, [the student] could face tough questions from the Committee on Character and Fitness, which examines the personal character of future lawyers.

"It may have an effect. It's a possibility in the worst-case scenario that the person does not get admitted," a committee representative said....

I would surely not advise would-be lawyers -- or almost anyone who doesn't really really need the money -- to pose naked in Playboy TV series. Rightly or wrongly, such behavior may make employers and clients think the less of you.

This having been said, it seems to me that it would be a clear First Amendment violation for a state bar to consider this in the character and fitness evaluation. The government, even in its capacity as licensor, generally may not penalize you for exercise of your First Amendment rights; and making sexually themed videos is part of your First Amendment rights just as is making other videos (at least unless the videos are child pornography or are such hard-core porn that they fit within the category of obscenity).

The government has been historically granted some extra latitude when it comes to licensing lawyers. Consider the controversial Illinois decision denying racist Matthew Hale bar membership based chiefly on his racism, see In re Hale, 723 N.E.2d 206 (Ill. 1999), or the Supreme Court decisions allowing exclusion of those who refuse to swear or affirm that they will support the Constitution of the United States (and that of the relevant state), see Law Students Civil Rights Research Council, Inc. v. Wadmond, 401 U.S. 154 (1971). Lawyer speech may also be restricted in situations where citizen speech may not be, see Gentile v. State Bar, 501 U.S. 1030 (1991). But these are narrow exceptions to the broad protection that lawyers, alongside other citizens, enjoy; before lawyers may be disciplined, disbarred, or denied bar membership based on their speech there needs to be a pretty powerful explanation of why the speech may undermine the administration of justice. No such explanation seems likely here.

I should note that I called up the Committee on Character and Fitness, to check whether the quote accurately represented the Committee's view; the person I spoke to said he couldn't comment on the subject. So it's possible that the Daily News misunderstood the matter, or that their source misspoke -- I much hope that this is so. But if the bar does try to exclude the applicant based on her participation in the making of a constitutionally protected video, that would be a pretty clear First Amendment violation.

And I say that as a Penn & Teller-certified expert on naked breast law.

elChato (mail):
Yes, the Hale decision was pretty weak; and a couple of years ago I recall a story about a California attorney who sometimes acts in porn films (the bar told the media in response to a query for the story that they considered his film-making outside their power to regulate). I seriously doubt they would even try to block her bar admission. Her problem will come if she tries to get a job at a firm. If I were advising her though, I'd tell her to take the Playboy cash and start advertising as soon as she passes the bar.
4.12.2007 5:45pm
WHOI Jacket:
What she should really do is do a lesbian 3-way video. Then she'll become a protected victem group. Law firms will fall over themselves to get her as junior partner.
4.12.2007 6:02pm
Cornellian (mail):
Assuming she is hot, all must be forgiven.
4.12.2007 6:08pm
PubliusFL:
Kind of ironic when explicitly rejecting someone because of the political views they have expressed is "extra latitude," while rejecting someone because of naked pictures with no apparent political or ideological dimention would be a "clear First Amendment violation."
4.12.2007 6:23pm
Shake-N-Bake:
Above the Law

There's a story currently on that page of Above the Law with a capture from the video. The naughty bits are censored in the pic, but I wouldn't recommend looking at it at work either. You can click the above link without issue though; the possibly bad picture is after the jump on the page. There is a picture of her face that you can see without having to look at the offending picture.

She's sorta attractive for a law student, but I wouldn't call her hot under any definition. Probably pretty average overall. Bad dye job (Latinas almost always look terrible with blonde dyed hair) contributes mightily to her just not looking right.

Agree that this shouldn't be considered in her bar application as reason to reject her, but that admission isn't going to be worth diddly since I'm sure most employers won't hire her. If she did this when she was like 18 or 19 at least she could blame youthful indiscretion. But so soon before she'd be working? I imagine many clients would take issue. Fair or not it will reflect on her judgment in the eyes of clients.
4.12.2007 6:30pm
VFBVFB (mail):
--- that admission isn't going to be worth diddly since I'm sure most employers won't hire her. ---

You do not need most employers to be interested in hiring you for your admission to be worth something; you only need one employer that you are interested in.

Besides, I do not think that most employers will refuse to hire her because of this if she stays in the New York metropolitan area after graduating. It's a socially liberal area, where most people are pretty chilled out about these things. If she was going to be working for a big law firm, it would be a big disadvantage, because they have sop many applicants, that that they can easily turn someone down for this. Most employers will not.
4.12.2007 6:38pm
CJColucci:
I'm thinking of starting my own shop. If I do, I'll consider her.
4.12.2007 6:49pm
Iwazaru:
In California, at least, the state bar association has no policy against lawyers appearing in porn (which, in the case below, is presumably much more explicit than a Playboy video).
4.12.2007 7:04pm
Iwazaru:
Whoops, here's the link to the story:
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1114074309022
4.12.2007 7:05pm
Houston Lawyer:
My ex-wife once brought home a Playboy because a friend of hers from school was in it. Much to my surprise, so was a woman I had met a few years before when she did a walk through of our legal offices when she was running for Harris County Judge. She was pretty enough that the pictures could only have helped her job opportunities. Apparently, she wasn't elected.

Other than for referring to the Rutgers women's team as nappy headed hos, on what grounds can a state bar disqualify you for the practice of law when you weren't convicted of any violation?
4.12.2007 7:08pm
Nikki:
When did this blog's comment section turn into Deadspin, anyway? Seems like the raciness level in the comments is way up. (Not just in response to this post.)

Ex: the last post had a comment about how naked women and beer were a required college course. And there was one a while back (I think in response to a post about including one's LSAT score on one's resume) where someone on a hiring committee said women should take off their wedding rings, because (IIRC) "we want sluts."
4.12.2007 7:26pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
See also Application of Cassidy, 51 N.Y.S.2d 202, 268 App. Div. 282 (1944), for a case where the New York State Bar association rejected for membership a John F. Cassidy's application because of his speeches in support of racist and fascist doctrines.
4.12.2007 7:26pm
Steve:
One of the comments quoted at Above The Law notes:

It should be noted that the young man holding her ****** and, at one point, spanking her ***, is also a Brooklyn Law student....

One wonders if the Committee on Character and Fitness would apply a double standard, and if so, in which direction.
4.12.2007 7:32pm
Anonymous Reader (mail):
Prof. Volokh,

Pornography is certainly protected speech (unlike obscenity), but why isn't made-for-sale pornography (such as this) considered commercial speech rather than pure speech? I understand that pornography is not advertising (but see almost every pornographic website on the internet), but isn't a person's interest in speech diminished when it is done in order to turn a profit? And doesn't that diminished interest, paired with the State's increased interest in regulating lawyers, suggest that such a moral character evaluation might be constitutional?
4.12.2007 7:36pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
What amazes me is that a profession that is overwhelmingly supportive of unlimited free speech (up to and including bestiality and virtual child pornography) would get upset because a lawyer decided to make porn. Why does this show bad character or a lack of fitness?

I am curious: were lawyers ever disbarred for homosexual activity? I don't mean because they were convicted of sodomy, but because it became public knowledge that they were homosexual?
4.12.2007 7:48pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
AnonymousReader asks:

Pornography is certainly protected speech (unlike obscenity), but why isn't made-for-sale pornography (such as this) considered commercial speech rather than pure speech?
Didn't the courts strike down bans on lawyers advertising some years back? Perhaps she can argue that she is just advertising more effectively! "Let me service your subpoena!"
4.12.2007 7:50pm
TomHynes (mail):
Eugene:

You neglected to mention another piece of your CV, noted at volokh.com 8/13/2004:
<b>
I am, I suspect, one of the few people in America who had a license to access pornography. </b>
4.12.2007 7:52pm
Shake-N-Bake:
Steve: Well, that guy's name is known and he's already been talked to by one of the papers, so they'll potentially know about his involvement as well. I guess we'll see what happens.

Nikki: Given the great numbers of the Deadspin LLP, I'm guessing there are a number who read (and comment) here.
4.12.2007 7:53pm
Nikki:
Heh, Shake-N-Bake. Deadspin LLP (esp. lt. winslow) is exactly what I was thinking of, but I thought actually mentioning it would probably be too obscure.
4.12.2007 8:17pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
I may be in two minorities here. I absolutely think her decision to appear in porn displays a poor moral character; I absolutely think she should be allowed to practice. My beef is with the existence of a committee on character. What hogwash. She has a constitutional right to be an immoral skank.
4.12.2007 8:21pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
(Cf. 9th amendment; Cf. Barnett, Randy)

=)
4.12.2007 8:22pm
BLS Student:
(FYI: I go to BLS and am on friendly terms with the young lady in question)

Really, this entire affair is a mountain out of a molehill. The only support the news has for the claim of a potential character and fitness issue is a vague comment by a TV legal consultant (who is not a specialist in professional responsibility) that "she may have to explain this when she goes up for character and fitness." Yet, this is spun to be a massive obstacle that has torpedoed her career. I'm not seeing a lot of support from authority that this will be a problem passing c&f. What I see is a lot of hand-wringing among the general public over "what could, theoretically, happen."

I think Eugene has it right that there's a First Amendment defense, but first and foremost, this is New York. We have lawyers who lie to the court, get DUIs, beat their wives, get busted for drugs, yet still practice law. Are we to deny her admission to the bar when she broke no laws and harmed no one?
4.12.2007 8:30pm
Henry (mail):
AnonymousReader, I know that you addressed your question to Prof. Volokh, but I can assure you that First Amendment protection for speech is not diminished when it is done in order to turn a profit. Books, newspapers, and movies, among other common forms of speech, are sold for profit and are fully protected. In the Son of Sam case, the Supreme Court struck down a New York State law that did not stop criminals from writing about their crimes, but took all their income that derived from it. The First Amendment includes the right to make money from speech.
4.12.2007 8:32pm
Henry (mail):
I should have added that the Supreme Court defines "commercial speech" as speech that proposes a commercial transaction. This means advertisements and product labels.
4.12.2007 8:33pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Anonymous Reader: You ask, "isn't a person's interest in speech diminished when it is done in order to turn a profit?"

The Court's answer has been an emphatic no, which is why newspapers, books, movies, TV programs, and other material that is made and distributed for profit is fully protected speech. The less protected category of "commercial speech" consists basically of commercial advertising (perhaps with something of a penumbra around it, but not much of one). That speech is sold commercially does not make it "commercial speech."
4.12.2007 8:33pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I absolutely think her decision to appear in porn displays a poor moral character; I absolutely think she should be allowed to practice.

Since what she appeared in wasn't porn (or at least if it was, so is the Naked Maja and September Morn) then I'm not how this applies.

Just for the uninformed, Naked Happy Girls isn't sexually oriented really at all; it's a guy looking for real people who are willing to be shown naked. As an artistic work, or as a psychological experiment, it's very interesting. As porn, meh.
4.12.2007 8:45pm
Shake-N-Bake:
Nikki, not obscure to this (card-carrying?) member of Deadspin LLP.
4.12.2007 9:08pm
von (mail) (www):
But these are narrow exceptions to the broad protection that lawyers, alongside other citizens, enjoy; before lawyers may be disciplined, disbarred, or denied bar membership based on their speech there needs to be a pretty powerful explanation of why the speech may undermine the administration of justice. No such explanation seems likely here.

Although perhaps no longer good law, EV's comment reminds me that Konigsberg v. State Bar and its companion case, In re Anastaplo, have never been overturned. The summary for In re Anastaplo gives you a flavor for the Supreme Court's decision. Harlan wrote the opinion for a 5-4 majority; Black wrote the dissent.

A rule of the Supreme Court of Illinois provides that applicants shall be admitted by it to the practice of law after satisfactory examination by the Board of Examiners and certification of qualification by a Committee on Character and Fitness. In hearings before that Committee, petitioner refused to answer any questions pertaining to his membership in the Communist Party, not on the ground of possible self-incrimination, but on the ground that such inquiries violated his freedom of speech and association. The Committee declined to certify him as qualified for admission to the Bar, solely on the ground that his refusals to answer such questions had obstructed the Committee's performance of its functions. The State Supreme Court denied him admission to practice. Held: Denial of petitioner's application for admission to the Bar on this ground did not violate his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.


I had the pleasure of having George Anastaplo as a professor back in the day. He's about as far from a communist as one can get, and a real nice guy. But that's to be expected; as the old line goes: "Anyone who gets thrown out of the USSR, Greece, and the Illinois bar can't be all that bad."

(Anastaplo had been asked to leave both the Soviet Union and Greece, back when it was under a military dictatorship.)
4.12.2007 9:17pm
Steve:
The only support the news has for the claim of a potential character and fitness issue is a vague comment by a TV legal consultant (who is not a specialist in professional responsibility) that "she may have to explain this when she goes up for character and fitness.

Well, the good professor's story contains a quote from "a committee representative." So either that quote isn't accurate, or you're understating matters.
4.12.2007 9:27pm
John Herbison (mail):
The linked article said, "If she applies for the New York State Bar this year, Dominguez could face tough questions from the Committee on Character and Fitness, which examines the personal character of future lawyers." It did not say that any adverse action has been or would be taken.

The video in question (accessible at http://www.nakedhappygirls.com/videoplayer.php?video=39) is plainly First Amendment protected. The Daily News quoted Ms. Dominguez as saying that "Lawyers can be boring"; the video is her declaration that she is not the kind of stuffed shirt typical of the profession (or at least that her shirt is stuffed more interestingly than some). Denial of admission to the practice of law solely or primarily because of the applicant's past exercise of First Amendment rights would be, at best, constitutionally suspect.

As for employment prospects, I should surmise that some employers would find a attractive female's willingness to remove her clothes less of an impediment than would other employers.
4.12.2007 9:38pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Although I realize this question isn't perfectly relevant here, but could or should it be said that the record of conduct is speech? For instance, if I'm walking down the street, that's conduct, not speech. But if a security camera captures footage of me walking down the street, does that record, that footage, become speech?
4.12.2007 9:48pm
M (mail):
I happen to know the woman in question. She was a student of mine and I was quite happy to write her a letter of recommendation to law school. This certainly seems ill-advised to me but otherwise harmless. She's a kind and decent person who does honest and hard work. I'm sure she'll be a solid lawyer if that's what she wants to do and do good reliable work. I'm sorry to see all of the trouble this has caused her and wish, for that reason alone, that she'd not done it but I especially wish that people who don't know her would not make unpleasent remarks about her, especially ones that require judgements that go beyond what one can reasonably infer from what she has done.
4.12.2007 10:09pm
Henry (mail):
Recovering Law Grad, yes, a security camera's footage of you walking down the street is speech, but that in itself doesn't mean much. A film of anything is legally speech, with the exception of obscenity and child pornography produced with a real child. Legal questions relating to freedom of speech arise when the government attempts to censor, regulate, or compel speech. Whether it may do so depends on the government's purpose, on the speaker's purpose, on who owns the speech (the camera footage, in this case), and other factors.
4.12.2007 10:23pm
Waldensian (mail):
Clayton Cramer writes:

What amazes me is that a profession that is overwhelmingly supportive of unlimited free speech (up to and including bestiality and virtual child pornography) would get upset because a lawyer decided to make porn. Why does this show bad character or a lack of fitness?

What leads you to conclude that the legal profession is "overwhelmingly supportive" of "bestiality and virtual child pornography"? That must have been quite a survey all those lawyers responded to. Who conducted it?

I actually don't know anybody, lawyer or otherwise, who is "supportive of unlimited free speech." That rule against "shouting fire in a theater" seems to enjoy pretty broad support, for example.
4.12.2007 11:17pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Waldensian: Falsely shouting fire in a theater.
4.12.2007 11:33pm
another_townie (mail):
Although I am loathe to give precise details, a few years back the NY C&F approved a gal who worked as a model / escort (and I suspect stripper as well) while at HLS. She was exceptionally hot, exceptionally brilliant &has since gone on to do fairly exceptional things outside of big law.

IF they approved a HLS grad with those credentials I don't think they will have too much of a problem with a someone appearing in a blue video where the two people aren't doing much more than light nudity &a little grab ass.

Of course you can always "get in" in Cali or Mass where such things are considered nobody's damn business.
4.12.2007 11:59pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
How is posing naked for a photograph, film, video, painting or sculpture indicative of moral unfitness? By such a standard the model for Michelangelo's David would be unfit. Having viewed the video in question, (for research purposes of course) I find nothing obscene or pornographic.
4.13.2007 12:09am
Mr. X (www):
For those who like all the facts before they judge a case, the offending video (NSFW).

I'd admit her to the bar.
4.13.2007 12:41am
Charles Oliver (mail):
Well, Playmate Vicki McCarty was a practicing lawyer for several years. so at least in California, it isn't a problem.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicki_McCarty
4.13.2007 1:03am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The fitness thing seems to vary state by state. For example, in Utah, one applicant was rejected after a single DUI arrest that was dismissed sua sponte by the prosecution before trial in another state. BAC was barely over the .08%. Based on the one dismissed DUI, the fitness committee claimed that the applicant had an alcohol problem and was therefore unfit. The rejection was overcome on appeal, but still delayed the applicant 1/2 year from taking the Utah bar.

So, my guess is that throughout part of the country, this woman is likely to have no problems, and throughout the rest, she may, but should be able to overcome it upon appeal. My guess is that she would be fine here in CO, on the West Coast, and the NE, but may have problems in parts of the South and Utah.
4.13.2007 2:21am
CJColucci:
Now that I've seen the video -- she's hired.
4.13.2007 9:04am
blackdoggerel (mail):
another_townie:

I had never heard of this before (the HLS model/escort). I know you don't want to go into precise details, but can you give an approximate time period she attended HLS? Just wondering if there was any overlap. Was it common knowledge among HLS students at the time?
4.13.2007 9:08am
Lively:
Joe Bingham

She has a constitutional right to be an immoral skank.


If the law student in question were black, and you were famous....Al Sharpton would be knocking on your door right now.
4.13.2007 9:52am
Waldensian (mail):

Waldensian: Falsely shouting fire in a theater.

Kind of hard to turn that law professor thing off, huh? :)
4.13.2007 10:12am
MM:
Nikki and Shake-N-Bake,
I'm a regular reader (numerous visits per day) of both Deadspin and Volokh, including the comments sections. I thought the overlap between the two sites would be non-existent, but then I noticed commenter "Yinka Double Dare" on both. I wonder how many of us there are?
4.13.2007 10:16am
A.S.:
I had a female friend from college who, when she was at Yale Law School, was in an issue of Playboy's "Girls of the Ivy League". I always wondered whether she brought that up to the bar committee (obviously, she was admitted to the bar, and she worked at DOJ for quite a while).
4.13.2007 11:22am
whit:
should cops have the same protection? imo, they should but i have no idea about the case law, except i know one case where a woman was fired for posing, but in that case, she was stripping from a police uniform, so that's a little different.

what does the case law say about cops? i know firemen pose in beefcake calendars all the time :)
4.13.2007 11:59am
Henry (mail):
whit, with cops there is the added feature that government employees do not have as much freedom of speech as others. In City of San Diego v. Roe (2004), the Supreme Court held that a police department could fire a police officer who sold a video on the adults-only section of eBay that showed him stripping off a police uniform and masturbating. The Court found that the officer's speech "was linked to his official status as a police officer, and designed to exploit his employer's image," and therefore "was detrimental to the mission and functions of his employer." The Court did not address what the result would have been had the officer's expression not been linked to his official status.
4.13.2007 12:35pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

What leads you to conclude that the legal profession is "overwhelmingly supportive" of "bestiality and virtual child pornography"? That must have been quite a survey all those lawyers responded to. Who conducted it?

I actually don't know anybody, lawyer or otherwise, who is "supportive of unlimited free speech." That rule against "shouting fire in a theater" seems to enjoy pretty broad support, for example.
Do you know lawyers that agree that obscenity laws are constitutional and serve a useful purpose? I must have talked to a lawyer sometime or another who agreed with that, but just about every lawyer I have ever talked to agrees with the ACLU--that freedom of speech should be completely unlimited.
4.13.2007 12:36pm
Visitor Again:
At least in California, it requires more than controversial expressive conduct to disqualify bar applicants on moral fitness grounds.

The California Bar admitted me in January, 1969 while I was under FBI investigation for turning in my draft card to Father Phil Berrigan at the First Unitarian Church in Boston right after Dr. Benjamin Spock's arraignment on obstruction of the draft and conspiracy charges. The Justice Department took the position that turning in one's draft card to protest the War in Viet Nam was a criminal offense. The feds also tried to take away my draft deferment as a father and to accelerate my induction into the armed forces, all unsuccessfully. I explained why I turned over the draft card on my bar application and was admitted without further ado--without any special questions or investigation.

Right after admission to the bar, I went to work as a poverty lawyer in Watts in March, 1969, hired by a legal services program funded by the federal Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). My resume disclosed all my political activities. Of course I wasn't interested in what today is known as Big Law or anything resembling a regular law practice and might not have fared so well in gaining employment there.

When did this blog's comment section turn into Deadspin, anyway? Seems like the raciness level in the comments is way up. (Not just in response to this post.)

Perhaps they're displaying their manly manliness, which has been threatened by the silencing of one of their locker room icons, Don Imus. It's just big talk from a gaggle of greasy ho'-hopper wannabees.

How fitting that the downfall of the pathetic bully Imus came when he picked on lovely young women of color whose dreams and aspirations and indeed whose very existence he vulgarly sought to diminish and tarnish.
4.13.2007 12:45pm
von (mail) (www):
Do you know lawyers that agree that obscenity laws are constitutional and serve a useful purpose? I must have talked to a lawyer sometime or another who agreed with that, but just about every lawyer I have ever talked to agrees with the ACLU--that freedom of speech should be completely unlimited.

Mr. Cramer, this may well be an exercise in futility, since your views on the ACLU are well known to even those of us who seldom read your blog and seem impervious to facts and/or evidence. But, so far as I know, no chapter of the ACLU has taken the position before any Court that "freedom of speech should be completely unlimited." In addition, your experience with lawyers may be somewhat limited and/or nonrepresentative, given that (as a lawyer) I have never met another lawyer who believes that "freedom of speech should be completely unlimited." Indeed, I take a relatively libertarian position on free speech issues, and I do not contend that "freedom of speech should be completely unlimited."

It could be that your zeal on this particular issue is affecting your ability to see your opponents' positions clearly.
4.13.2007 12:53pm
whit:
thanks for the info, henry. that case sounds similar to the one where the female cop was stripping FROM a uniform in a photoshoot.

clearly, i think that should be firable

it amazes me that there is apparently no case law on a plain vanilla cop as stripper thang (iow, not stripping from a uniform, but just stripping).

not that i am PLANNING on posing for playgirl, anytime soon...
:l
4.13.2007 12:54pm
JDS:
This topic -- whether someone has the character and moral standards to be a lawyer -- is hilariously ironic.
4.13.2007 1:08pm
neurodoc:
How exceptional is it (or isn't it) for a bar committee to reject an applicant?

"Priors" like felony convictions, substance abuse, and major mental illness would be reasons to reject that would withstand judicial scrutiny. What are examples of the outer limits on permissible reasons to reject? Would re Anastaplo be decided the same way if it came before the Court today? (Are those applying for admission still asked questions about membership in the Communist Party?)

I take it that EV thinks the Hale matter was wrongly decided on the law. How about on the "facts," though, since Hale subsequently made unequivocally clear how unsuitable he was for admission to the bar? Might the committee have been right for the wrong reasons in that case?

(Since our daughter was sworn in last month in Manhattan, I will let her know she can now appear in the nude [outside of court, of course], though her parents would hope she won't chose to do so.)
4.13.2007 1:13pm
whit:
as i understand it, she can also walk around topless since NY has ruled women have that right
4.13.2007 1:14pm
John Fee (mail):
This topic -- whether someone has the character and moral standards to be a lawyer -- is hilariously ironic.

This comment is probably just meant to be funny, but I think it is worth pointing out that there is nothing ironic, hypocritical, or unfair about bar associations screening the moral character of applicants to the legal profession. The fact that lawyers have a negative moral reputation and history is an extra reason why bar associations should take this screening process seriously. I am speaking mostly to morals such as honesty, respect for law, and respect for other people when dealing with them, which have a strong connection to the public interest, and which lawyers too often fail to display.

Of course this says nothing about whether this woman's appearance in Playboy should be relevant to bar admission, and I think it should not.
4.13.2007 2:43pm
John Fee (mail):
This topic — whether someone has the character and moral standards to be a lawyer — is hilariously ironic.

This comment is probably just meant to be funny, but I think it is worth pointing out that there is nothing ironic, hypocritical, or unfair about bar associations screening the moral character of applicants to the legal profession. The fact that lawyers have a negative moral reputation and history is an extra reason why bar associations should take this screening process seriously. I am speaking mostly to morals such as honesty, respect for law, and respect for other people when dealing with them, which have a strong connection to the public interest, and which lawyers too often fail to display.

Of course this says nothing about whether this woman's appearance in Playboy should be relevant to bar admission, and I think it should not.
4.13.2007 2:43pm
Aaron:
Is Clayton Cramer GHABB,Y? I wonder...

I bet that Zywicki is on both.
4.13.2007 3:00pm
Herman Munster (mail):
Why is this a big deal? There is a Cravath attorney (I won't name names...) who was once featured in Playboy's "Girls of the Ivy League."

More to the point, I suspect a fair number of clients would actually pay higher rates for a Playboy-model attorney.
4.13.2007 3:16pm
Syd (mail):
(Since our daughter was sworn in last month in Manhattan, I will let her know she can now appear in the nude [outside of court, of course], though her parents would hope she won't chose to do so.)

But is she happy?
4.13.2007 5:30pm
neurodoc:
I certainly realize that graduation from law school and passing the bar is no guarantee that an individual will go on to prove a credit to the legal profession. But I wonder how bar committees go about assessing the "character" of candidates. Can anyone tell me: 1) what number or % of those who have passed the exam are denied admission because they are judged unfit for admission?; 2) for what reasons other than relatively obvious ones (criminal conduct, substance abuse, major mental illness), and on what evidence, are applicants denied?

Who will one day practice as physicians is largely determined upfront by medical school admission committees, since few are subsequently eliminated for other than academic failure, and medical licensure with its privileges isn't in much, if any, doubt so long as a medical school graduate passes the state's exam. If a sociopath gets in the front door of medical school, they can do a lot of damage before they are stopped, if they ever are stopped.

A committee on "character and fitness" as a last check before licensure to practice law or medicine sounds like a good idea, but I wonder whether these committees in fact perform much of a gatekeeping function. Can they and do they keep some who would later prove unfit out?

But is she happy?
Syd, as to the newly admitted daughter's current state of happiness, I think it safe to say she is substantially happier than had she not passed, been admitted, and been hired into a well-paying first year associate slot. Her parents are certainly happier than had it been otherwise.
4.13.2007 9:58pm
Syd (mail):
Well, if she is, that fulfills two of the qualifications for being in the video.
4.14.2007 4:20am
david giacalone (www):
Please see my discussion in the posting at f/k/a: "softpornEsq and the 1st Am: is Prof. Volokh fantasizing?"

My question in this posting is whether a bar fitness committee and the courts might disagree with the conclusion that this is an easy First Amendment case. My concern arises in the context of recent efforts across the nation of bar groups, grievance committees and courts using ethics rules to maintain the dignity and image of the profession — especially given Ms. Dominguez's desire to counter the reputation of lawyers as boring and the specific connecting of her performance by the producer with her status as a lawyer
4.14.2007 1:52pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
So...this young woman is going to be denied a license to practice law simply for doing a harmless striptease but Nifong may very well keep his license even though he deliberately decided to falsely accuse three young innocent Duke Lacrosse players in order to further his political career??? Well, I think that just stinks.
4.15.2007 10:03am
No Account Lurker:
Regarding the Penn and Teller link, Merriam Webster defines the one verb form of express as "to force out (as the juice of a fruit) by pressure". Wouldn't that indicate that a woman exposing her breast for breastfeeding an infant really does intend to engage in expression?
4.16.2007 10:52am