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Bayh advocates careers in public service

U.S. Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), considered to be on the short list of running mates for likely Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, encouraged over 100 Law students to seek careers in public service at a student-organized conference Saturday evening.

Bayh was the keynote speaker at the Law School's Conference on Public Service and the Law, a weekend-long event that Law School Dean Robert E. Scott called the first of its kind at the University.

Bayh, a 1982 graduate of the Law School, said he hoped his speech would encourage Law students not to be so swayed by the temptation of material success that they neglect service opportunities.

"You owe it to yourselves to experience the joy of public service," he said.

In the speech, he stressed the worthiness of combating political and social problems, including widening wealth inequality, voter apathy and threats to civil liberties.

"Our self-interest can't be defined by how much we have in the bank," he said. "If there is poverty in our community, it impoverishes us all."

In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, Bayh downplayed his vice-presidential prospects.

"It's flattering to be mentioned, but I'm going to be the best U.S. Senator I can be" for the time being, he said.

Bayh now is among the top few contenders to become Al Gore's running mate, along with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, said Larry J. Sabato, government and foreign affairs professor.

"This is a very serious candidacy, not just because he's a U.Va. grad which entitles him to everything, but he is from a midwestern state which Gore would never carry otherwise," Sabato said.

A Bayh vice-presidential candidacy also would attract attention to the University, he said.

Although Scott introduced Bayh, also a former governor of Indiana, as the school's "favorite son," he emphasized other famous public servants who have graduated from the Law School.

Mentioning illustrious graduates such as former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Scott said the Conference "demonstrated vividly this Law School's long tradition of commitment to public service."

Besides Bayh's appearance, the Conference also featured other speakers, panel discussions, a dialogue on the death penalty and a presentation of a bust of Robert F. Kennedy to the Law School by Kennedy's nephew, Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, and widow, Ethel Kennedy.

The Conference was an effort to bolster the Law School's reputation for public service, said second-year Law student Forrest Christian, one of the organizers of the event.

During Christian's job interview at the Department of Justice, the interviewer expressed surprise that a University student would be interested in public service, Christian said.

The experience led him to believe "U.Va. does not have the public service reputation that it ought to have," therefore making the conference necessary, he said.

Christian and second-year Law student John Henning served as co-chairs of the conference.

Henning said he was "ecstatic" at the high attendance at the conference.

"The student response was overwhelming" and included University undergraduates and students from several other law schools, Henning said.

Second-year Law student Ponneh Aliabadi, who attended the conference, said the fact that the event was student-planned and student-run was commendable.

"It's wonderful that John and Forrest took the initiative," Aliabadi said.

Henning said he and the other Conference organizers plan to make the event an annual tradition.

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