President Bill Clinton Discusses Rule of Law and Public Service at First Annual Temple Law Foundation Lecture

“The two ideas that bring us together tonight around this
Foundation and what the Barracks have done with their fund are
basically the importance of the rule of law and how it plays out in
the lives of real people and the importance of public service
generally, not just by people in elected office, but by private
citizens.  And the idea, because of Temple’s heritage, that
this is something that we not only need to do around the corner,
but around the world.” – President Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton served as the inaugural speaker in the
Temple Law Foundation’s newly established distinguished speaker
series, presenting remarks addressing the rule of law and the
importance of public service.  He also drew on his own
experiences as an “indebted law student” to emphasize the
importance of scholarships, grants, and loan forgiveness programs
for law students who pursue public service. 

Noting that Temple Law has been instrumental in promoting the
rule of law through its programs in China, President Clinton spoke
at length about the critical importance of the rule of law as the
foundation for political and economic stability.  He cited
examples ranging from the difficulty in redeveloping Haiti
following the 2010 earthquake due to the inability to show clear
title to property (necessary to qualify for financing to rebuild
homes and businesses) to the current developments in Crimea and
Ukraine. 

President Clinton also spoke at length about the importance of
programs that provide relief from student loan debt for lawyers who
engage in public service, and calling for law students to pursue
service for its social and individual benefits:  “Service
liberates you because you cannot serve in any setting not common to
your experience before without believing that our differences make
life interesting, but our common humanity is more important.
That is the ultimate bounty that service brings to those who render
it.”

After President Clinton concluded his remarks, he was joined on
stage by Governor Ed Rendell for a question and answer session in
which he fielded questions submitted by Temple Law School
faculty.  President Clinton shared insights into historic
events like the Camp David talks between Ehud Barak and Yassar
Arafat as well as into key decisions he made that later, some
observers claim, led to the financial collapse of 2008-2010.
He also weighed in on use of the filibuster, criticizing its use
“as a governing strategy.”

President Clinton talked at length about the work done by the
Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.  When
asked what successes he was most proud of from this chapter of his
public life, President Clinton cited the Foundation’s work in
reducing the cost of children’s drugs and the cost of drugs used to
treat HIV/AIDS, making them accessible to more people around the
world.  He also discussed the Global Initiative’s role in
bringing together leaders from various sectors around the globe to
meet and not just discuss problems, but act to solve them:  “I
just had this sense that people were sick and tired of going to
meetings where they talked about problems and nobody ever asked
them to do anything.  And that’s basically what happened.”

Asked about the nature of leadership, and whether it was an
inherent quality or one that could be learned, President Clinton
pointed to the American military as an example of effectively
learned leadership.  President Clinton and Governor Rendell
discussed the American involvement in Haiti after the 2010
earthquake and the leadership role the military took in running the
airport near Port-Au-Prince, a critical step to accessing relief
supplies and personnel. 

The evening concluded with a discussion of issues relevant to
many in the audience: law faculty pay and experiential legal
education.  Citing the benefits of having had good teachers at
many points throughout his life, President Clinton suggested that
such teachers were sure to be worth more than they cost.  He
then noted that to the extent law schools provided more
experiential education, including overseas opportunities, community
service, and practicums, they were likely to provide a more
“cost-effective, relevant, and impactful” legal education.

The lecture was given as part of a fundraiser to support debt
relief programs at Temple Law School, including the Barrack Public
Interest Fellowship Program, which provides funds to graduates
working in qualified public interest positions to help alleviate
their law school debt.  The program is supported by Leonard
and Lynne Barrack, who are longtime benefactors of the law school
and in particular of the school’s public interest and public
service-oriented students.  In addition to serving as director
of the Temple Law Foundation, Leonard Barrack sits on Temple’s
Board of Trustees and serves as the President of the Jewish
Federation of Greater Philadelphia.  He is a graduate of
Temple Law School and a founding partner of Barrack, Rodos &
Bacine.

The Temple Law Foundation, the group that invited President
Clinton, was formed in 1959 to bolster the school’s fund-raising
efforts and to expand the opportunities that the law school offers
to its students.  Through decades of dedication and diligent
fund-raising, the law foundation has significantly increased the
school’s endowment.  Today income from this fund is
distributed annually for student scholarships, loan forgiveness for
students working in public interest and research grants for
professors.