Freedom of Thought, Law Firms and the Legal Profession
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Panel Two: Defending Unpopular Clients: The Ethics of Targeting Attorneys, Firms, and Clients for Reprisals

Jennifer K. Bukowsky
Stephen Davis
Charles Hatfield
Gary Myers

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The 2022 Missouri Chapters Conference took place on January 24, 2022, at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, MO. The topic of the conference was “Freedom of Thought.” 

How should we think about “lawyer-shaming”? At the close of the Trump administration, we saw an effort to deter law firms from re-hiring attorneys leaving the Department of Justice and to encourage corporate America to decline to work with firms that had re-hired such attorneys. And efforts have since moved on to targeting firms with clients involved in the fossil fuel industry.

Further, in the past year, we have seen a spate of bar complaints filed against both lawyers holding or seeking political office and against lawyers representing or even merely advising political candidates and officeholders.

There has been controversy in years past over attorney pro bono work on behalf of detainees accused of terrorism.

As a matter of legal ethics and as a matter of industry norms, how should we think about such efforts, and is there a consistent principle that should govern? Should law firms hire attorneys with a diversity of viewpoints? When are politically motivated bar complaints appropriate, and when are they unethical?


  • Stephen Davis, Partner, True North Law
  • Charles Hatfield, Partner, Stinson LLP
  • Gary Myers, Earl F. Nelson Professor of Law and former Law School Dean, University of Missouri – Columbia
  • Moderator: Jennifer Bukowsky, Executive Director, Show-Me Defenders and President, Jefferson City Lawyers Chapter

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

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