Stephen Glass
Stephen Glass ()

The legal profession is not the church. How much penance does an established liar have to perform before he can be admitted into the sacred halls of law practice? In Stephen Glass’ case, the answer is: not enough. His bid to become a lawyer has come to an end. The California Supreme Court has denied his request for admission to the bar.

You might remember that Glass, a one-time wunderkind of journalism, was disgraced when found to have invented facts and events in dozens of articles he wrote for The New Republic and other publications. (His story was made into a terrific movie, “Shattered Glass,” starring Hayden Christensen.)

The court recounts all his sins and omissions in its opinion (which reads like a juicy novel). Despite his efforts to redeem himself, the court was not convinced, finding Glass’ efforts inadequate and self-serving.

I thought the court might have shown a bit more mercy. Glass was only in his mid-20s when he committed his acts of dishonesty — although they were doozies. Personally, I think if Glass wants to be a lawyer this badly — he has been trying to gain bar admission for 10 years, first in New York, then in California — he should get the chance. I mean, how many people have this kind of passion to be a lawyer?

New York University School of Law professor Stephen Gillers has an interesting take on the case. “What makes the Glass case so intriguing to lawyers and law students is frankly the journalism backdrop,” Gillers told The New York Times. “The question is: Are we prepared to say as lawyers that a man who is no longer considered moral enough to be a journalist is moral enough to be a lawyer? If people flame out in journalism because of dishonesty, is the law open to them? I think the answer is no.”

Of course, Gillers doesn’t address the corollary: If you flame out in law because of dishonesty, is journalism open to you?

But I have a better suggestion for anyone in Glass’ shoes: business school. You’ll recall that Mathew Martoma, the ex-SAC Capital trader who’s on trial for insider trading, managed to get into Stanford Graduate School of Business, even after getting kicked out of Harvard Law School for falsifying his transcript.

In other news, old-line Philadelphia firm Dilworth Paxson has a new chief executive officer and co-chairman: Ajay Raju. “It is amazing news that a member of an immigrant family from India, who grew up playing football in Bucks County, [Pa.,] could lead a historically white-shoe law firm like Dilworth,” said Xerox general counsel Don Liu, a friend of Raju’s.

Liu noted that Raju joins a select club of Asian-Americans who have led major firms — the others are Morgan Chu of Irell & Manella and William Lee of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

Vivia Chen is chief blogger for The Careerist. Updates appear daily at thecareerist.typepad.com. She can be contacted at vchen@alm.com.