Friday, April 25, 2008
Posted by Alan Childress
Last week, I posted this item on a lawyer, Roger Phipps, whom the Fifth Circuit admonished by name for being unprepared at oral argument, to the point where he flippantly argued without reading cases. The Court asked where he went to school (BTW, no good ever comes of that question in this setting!). And the Court's opinion quoted his reply that it was "Loyola." Yesterday, an administrator at Loyola-N.O. sent out a mass email denying in caps ("GOOD NEWS") that Mr. Phipps was their graduate (see comments to the earlier post); the email was -- obviously, foreseeably -- posted widely on the internet.
Because that email publicly disagreed with this blog's (rather uneventful) statements that Phipps's Martindale-Hubbell entry was wrong and that he had indeed gone to LoyNO (not my main point), and because internal research rather than relying on the internet would have revealed the error, I expected a correction to be forthcoming. When silence followed and it appeared I was supposed to just accept the implicit characterization that I was stating the facts falsely, I asked the registrar at Loyola-Chicago whether Mr. Phipps was their graduate as MarHub showed (and made clear I was asking for no other information, other than confirmation or not of the public listing as J.D., 1990, from Loy.-Chi.). I identified myself and my purpose.
This morning, I received an email from the registrar at Loyola-Chicago confirming that Roger Phipps did not attend their law school. The email added that the registrar had further contacted Loyola-New Orleans, which emailed her (per a dean) to "confirm that a Roger D. Phipps is a 1990 graduate of Loyola University New Orleans" after all.
I have all along suggested that I don't think it reflects much on Loyola (any Loyola) either way that some 1990 graduate is a poor advocate who spoke without doing his homework. I stand by that, though the irony here is not lost on me. I have taught classes at Loyola, proudly, and I admire many of their professors, students, and graduates. I constantly read in the news about a clinical professor from the school fighting hard for criminal justice in a broken post-Katrina system. I co-teach in Greece with a family law professor doing cutting-edge work on reproductive technologies. One of their legal ethics professors literally wrote the book on Louisiana ethics. I have even taught some of their professors (am I that old?), such as one just named full professor for his outstanding publications on civil law property. I have hired, over the years, three of their graduates as attorneys to represent me in matters crucial to my life. One of their graduates sat as a Judge on that Fifth Circuit panel (making the attorney Phipps's gaffe even worse) and is one of the finest judges and people I have ever known. I have justifiably recommended their students, my students there, to clerkships and graduate programs.
Now I find that it is
six hours four days after Loy.-Chi. received the private correction, and way more than 24 hours after the mass email. And I still have heard nothing of a public correction. So I will just post this.
The school's legacy is not defined by one graduate, obviously. And indeed I am surprised that the career services office went to such lengths to disavow the alumnus as if it would be such an awful thing for the school if it turned out -- as it will when they finally make their public correction -- that he graduated from their school. I think it should have been left alone, as I wrote before, or at least used as an opportunity to tout their success stories and sources of pride (like those above) rather than a blanket, ill-founded, and now ill-fated denial.
And, at any rate, all this is not fair to Loyola-Chicago, who may regard LoyNO's public, continuing treatment of Phipps as having gone to Loy.-Chi. (despite their correspondence) as "BAD NEWS!" and not just "trivia."
Anyway, as Mr. Phipps made clear when he "defended" himself to the Court, at least he showed up wearing a suit.