Regarding the Jan. 12 news story about changes in hiring practices for the Justice Department's honors program: I worked as a trial lawyer in the antitrust division of the Justice Department from 1998 until 2002, and I take issue with the assertions of department spokesman Mark Corallo and other aides to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft that the honors program's previous structure was tilted in favor of Ivy League schools. During my tenure, the program hires in my section came from schools such as Howard University and the state universities of Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Only one hire came from Harvard University.

I expect that an examination of the Justice Department's hiring record will show a much greater diversity of law schools than is typical among other Washington institutions, including the think tanks, law firms and committees on Capitol Hill. I was impressed not only by the range of law schools represented in the honors program, but also by the quality of the newly hired attorneys. Based on my experience, the assertions of the political leadership for needing to control honors program hiring do not appear to have anything to do with law school diversity or quality control.

MARK S. HEGEDUS

Brussels