Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is getting heat because before she was elected to Congress in 2006, she spent much of her career as a lawyer working at a mega New York law firm representing the world’s largest cigarette company, Philip Morris. She apparently spends a good bit of time between 1995 to 1999 helping Philip Morris fight the Justice Department’s efforts to get the tobacco company to produce damaging research and other internal documents regarding its knowledge about the health risks of tobacco products.
My first reaction is that you shouldn’t judge people for the clients they represent. I defended drug companies during that same period and while I’m not proud of this, I’m not ashamed either. I’m sure Martin O’Malley is not ashamed of defending criminals. But Dorothy Samuels has a different take on it in the New York Times that I think deserves airing:
Professor Stephen Gillers of New York University Law School, one of the country’s leading legal ethics experts, distinguishes between publicly criticizing lawyers because of the people they represent, which he says he would not do, and how they carry out the representation.