How the Crisis in the Legal Profession Is Transforming American Society
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 An entertaining addition to the growing shelf of books about the discontents of lawyers and, by implication, the rest of the citizenry who has to put up with them. Glendon (Rights Talk, not reviewed), a professor at Harvard Law School who started her legal career as an associate at a large Chicago law firm, offers an extremely interesting--if somewhat rambling and ultimately inconclusive--mixture of personal anecdote and sociological theory to describe purportedly profound changes in the legal profession over the past half-century and the effect of these changes on our democratic society: the rise in the number of lawyers, the burgeoning caseloads (one federal judge refers to himself as the ``Terminator'' because of the need to get matters over with rapidly, often at the cost of reflective justice), the economic pressures that have, in some eyes, reduced professionalism in favor of market imperatives and created the rise of an adversarial class of lawyers who accede to their clients' every wish. Glendon solemnly quotes Gibbon with respect to another empire where the growth in lawyers and legalism coincided with a decline and fall in the spirit of law that makes republican government viable; yet the author is neither as pessimistic nor as whiny as Sol M. Linowitz in his recent lament (The Betrayed Profession, p. 372). She does, however, raise many more questions than she answers, and her premise of seismic shocks to the foundation of the profession remains just that: premise rather than proof. Over 20 years ago, S.F.C. Milsom demonstrated that the growth of the Anglo- American common law comes not from some idealized development of legal principles but from the everyday work of lawyers attempting to find new solutions for their clients' problems. In light of that historical perspective, it remains to be seen whether alterations to the legal profession and society since the early 1960s are as cataclysmic as Glendon characterizes them. Well written and thought provoking, if not totally convincing.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-374-21938-9
Page count: 388pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1994


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