May 21, 2021 - University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes said that societies that have a strong rule of law have better outcomes, but more progress is needed in regards to equality during a recent continuing legal education talk.
Baynes was one of several speakers at the Law Day Virtual Luncheon, hosted by the Houston Bar Association, Houston Young Lawyers Association and the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation.
"What you find is that in societies that have a strong rule of law, it is usually associated with higher GDP per capita, better rates of basic health and relative peace and prosperity among the population," Baynes said.
"It's certainly something we should all achieve and strive for. There are certainly still disparities in our society, significant underrepresentation of people of color in many areas of American life, including among lawyers, judges, law professors and law students. That's one area where there has been a challenge, and it's a fundamental fault line in our U.S. history."
Baynes was joined by Texas Supreme Court Justice Brett Busby, and Haynes Boone Senior Counsel Lynne Liberato, who each discussed numerous current events that intersect with the legal profession.
Liberato pointed to contrasting incidents where the rule of law has succeeded and failed.
"What happened on the Capitol on Jan. 6 shows what happens when people don't trust the rule of law," she said. "It seems pretty clear that the people there did not trust our institutions and did not trust the application of the rule of law. It shows the incredible bad things that can happen when people don't believe in the law and don't honor the rule of law.
"The flip side of that relates to the legal challenges to the last presidential election. Virtually every court, and it didn't matter whether the judges came from a Republican background, Democratic background or Independent background - virtually every court applied the rule of law in making their decisions, and they did so in the face of tremendous political pressure."
Busby described the importance of having a public that trusts its governmental and legal systems.
"Part of what we can all do to advance the rule of law is condemn violence, but then building trust in our institutions to handle issues," Busby said. "Through the court system is one way, and public advocacy also has an important role to play in that. Sometimes political advocacy as well, to help build up those institutions that help preserve the rule of law."Click here to watch the complete "Advancing the Rule of Law Now" event.