Legal Profession (Contemporary)

I have since 1975 been engaged in teaching students about the contemporary legal profession and the law governing lawyers.  I was never entirely comfortable in that role for the reason that I have never practiced law for a living.  I have nevertheless tried to share with students a sense that the profession is a high calling.  E.g., Law and the River. To that end I have in the last decade wrapped the legal material in a bundle of historical material that included a lot of notable actions by lawyers. 

I have occasionally been involved in matters of professional regulation.  In the early 70s I actively opposed the efforts of the Chief Justice to impose additional training and discipline requirements on trial lawyers.  He was inspired by his vision of English barristers.  I also over the years resisted the efforts of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar to exercise closer dominion over legal education.  As a dean, I joined Charles Myers at Stanford in withholding some information from the regulators that we thought was none of their proper business.

In 2002, I filed a grievance with a bar committee against a lawyer.  He was representing a company whose salesman had induced a defendant to promise to buy new siding for her old mobile home, in which she lived with two grandchildren of whom she had custody.  She was represented by a legal services lawyer and I was trying to help him.  I found in her file a letter from the company lawyer telling her that her siding was in the warehouse, that if she did not pay for it, it would be taxable income, and that it would be his duty to turn her over to the IRS.

I also that year had occasion to address a meeting of the Business Law Section to suggest that some of those in the room should be exposed to punitive damage liability for committing frauds on the rights of citizens by drafting unconscionable and therefore invalid arbitration clauses.  Unconscionable Lawyers.  The speech was not entirely well received.  More warmly received has been A Tale of Two Lawyers.  Although about 19th century lawyers, it seems to speak to at least some who are practicing in the 21st.

In 2008, I had the pleasure of publishing a salute to the professional ethics of Colonels Kenneth Royall and Cassius Dowell when they vigorously defended German saboteurs in 1942. index.htm

My writings that attempt to tell lawyers how to behave and how they should regulate one another are:

Professionalism and Our Troubled Times, 54 A.B.A. J. 943 (1969)

On the Pursuit of Competence, Trial Magazine, Dec. 1976

The Right to Zealous Counsel, 1979 Duke L. J. 1291 (1980)

Call for A Profession of Truth, 34 J. Leg. Ed. 105 (1984)

Book Review, Halliday: Beyond Monopoly: Lawyers, State Crises and Professional Empowerment, 240 Science 1055 (1988)

Meaning and Professionalism in American Law, 10 Constitutional Commentary 297 (1993)

Unconscionable Lawyers, 19 Georgia St. L. Rev. 361 (2002)

A Military Salute, 11 Green Bag 2d *** (2008)




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