Is There Life After Plagiarism And Fabrication? Not For Stephen Glass

Stephen Glass, a former The New Republic reporter who gained notoriety for fabricating dozens of stories in the mid-90s, is making headlines once again. This time, it’s because California’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether Glass is morally fit to be a lawyer in the state. 

Glass is not the first or last reporter to be fired for crimes of plagiarism and lying. His life, of course, must continue after the scandal. Others have done it. Jayson Blair, the New York Times wonderboy who was fired for plagiarizing work in 2003, has gone on to become a certified life coach and counselor. Another former employee of the Gray Lady, Zachery Kouwe, resigned from the paper in 2010 after complaints he plagiarized business stories and is now a public relations professional. (His website even says he’s written for the paper.)

After being tarnished with the plagiarism brush, you probably won’t be hired as a journalist again. But you can go down other avenues and be successful. So why has Glass chosen to go into law, a field where his past moral ambiguity is clearly going to be questioned?

For almost a decade, Glass has been fighting a steep uphill battle to become a practicing lawyer. After graduating from Georgetown University with a law degree in 2000, Glass has unsuccessfully lobbied to gain admission to first the bar in New York state and later, California. He withdrew his application from New York in 2004, two years after it was first submitted, when he was told “he would not likely be approved on moral character grounds,” according to a Reuters column by Jack Shafer.

Glass then moved to California and passed the bar exam in 2007 or 2009. (There are conflicting dates on this. According to the California Bar Journal, Glass passed in 2009 while Shafer says it is 2007.) Now, at the petition of the Committee of Bar Examiners, the top court in the state will hear the case.

“In light of the serious misconduct that occurred, albeit a decade ago, [Glass] did not show in the commission’s eyes significant rehabilitation,” Rachel Gunberg, an attorney with the California State Bar’s Office of General Counsel, told the Recorder. “He just hasn’t shown that he holds those values that we hold dear.”

Grunberg is referring to the fact that Glass took 11 years to fully apologize and admit to the 42 articles he fabricated.

“The question before the California Supreme Court is the 39-year-old Glass’s current moral state, and whether he has sufficiently rehabilitated himself to practice law today,” writes Shafer.

Who knows if Glass will win his case in court. To be fair, he isn’t exactly hurting financially. Numerous outlets have reported he works as a paralegal at an Los Angeles-based law firm where he makes a six-figure salary, according to Shafer.

What do you think? Should Glass be granted admission to the California bar or should he pick a different profession?