Changing Lives

Last week the DePaul Journal for Social Justice celebrated its inaugural issue. As the opening “Letter to Our Readers” from the managing editor states, “It began with a dream. Three women with a vision to create a forum calling for justice, bringing inequalities to light and inspiring others to fight for what is right and just in this world. Beyond a dream, we had little more. No money. No office. And very few models for what we wanted to accomplish. We knew we wanted a journal unlike any other at our law school and among only a handful of public interest-oriented journals across the country.”

The three women are Jennifer Keys, Alysia Franklin and Susan DeCostanza. The last of these is my daughter.

So obviously I am a proud papa, having a daughter taking after her father’s editorial footsteps. Well, yes. But that’s not my primary reason for being so delighted.

That goes to something found in the opening article of this inaugural issue by William P. Quigley who teaches law at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. He tells the story of a team of law students working around the clock after Hurricane Katrina to prevent the government from demolishing houses without notifying the owners. In fact, the owners were still prohibited by martial law from living in their houses and couldn’t get back to fix their homes or remove valuables. As the team debriefed at the end of the week several were deeply moved by the work they had undertaken to help people in such great need. One said, “You know, the first thing I lost in law school was the reason that I came. This will help me get back on track.”

The track my daughter Susan started on had many influences. One proved to be a fork in the road. When she was an undergraduate at Boston College eight or nine years ago, someone gave her a copy of Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen. In that book he tells about his vision for how the legal profession can help children caught in the vortex of the international sex trafficking and those trapped in slavery even in countries where it is illegal. Being a lawyer, she thought. What a good way to help people! So she set her sights on law school, and now, in her third year, she has helped launch a journal for social justice. Books still change lives.

The irony is that even though Good News about Injustice is an IVP book, I was not the one who gave it to her. (And I was the editor at IVP who worked with the author to get the book published!) It is more ironic that many who go to law school do so for altruistic reasons. Yet that is what is often lost immediately. As Quigley comments, “What a simple and powerful indictment of legal education and of our legal profession.”

Am I proud Susan has some publishing blood running in her veins? Certainly. Am I proud that an IVP book helped change the course of her life in such a positive direction? No doubt. But to know that in the intervening years she has not lost her focus or her commitments, . . . well, you won’t hear this often from an editor, but words fail.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

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