CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — LAWYERS must help people, not just protect rights, Attorney General Janet Reno told Harvard Law School students in a talk June 9. She spoke at an event sponsored by this year's graduating class.
Ms. Reno exhorted members of the legal profession to "look beyond the narrow walls of the courtroom." It is not enough for lawyers to win victories upholding the rights of poor and oppressed clients, she said, if those people must return to barren lives after they leave the courthouse.
"Lawyers have a duty to reach out and use the resources of the community to improve the lives of their clients," she said.
Reno, who previously was the state attorney in Miami, recalled a man who thanked her for prosecuting him on a drug charge several years earlier. When she expressed surprise at his gratitude, he explained that one of Reno's assistant prosecutors had placed the man in a drug-treatment program as an alternative to jail, and that he was now drug free and reunited with his family.
Too often, Reno said, "lawyers have taken law away from the people, made it incomprehensible to them. Law has tied people up, not freed them. It's time to return law to the people and the people to the law."