American Lawyers and Their Communities: Ethics in the Legal Profession (Book Review)

Robert F. Cochran Jr.

Pepperdine University School of Law


Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2001

Prof. Cochran reviews American Lawyers and Their Communities, by Thomas Shaffer. Shaffer examines the ethical impact on lawyers of their professional, ethnic, and religious communities. In this review, Cochran focuses attention on the religious community section of the book and then briefly discusses the professional and ethnic community sections. Shaffer builds his discussion of the lawyer and the religious community around an engaging extended metaphor. He envisions a street. On one side is the church, on the other is the courthouse. The legal part of the academy, more than any other, has systematically discouraged and disapproved of invoking the religious tradition as important or even interesting. It ignores the community of the faithful so resolutely that even its students who have come to law school from the community of the faithful learn to look at the church from the courthouse, rather than at the courthouse from the church. Shaffer also has much to say about the lawyers' professional community. Most of his critique is not explicitly religious, but Cochran argues that there is a connection between his religious faith and his insight into the profession. Shaffer argues that lawyers should look within their religious and ethnic communities for a moral foundation for law practice. Cochran concludes this review with the hope that as we seek to identify lawyer ideals within our communities, a common vision will emerge.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 7

Keywords: book review, lawyers, community, ethics, religion

JEL Classification: K49

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Date posted: May 3, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Cochran, Robert F., American Lawyers and Their Communities: Ethics in the Legal Profession (Book Review) (2001). Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2001. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1598431

Contact Information

Robert F. Cochran Jr. (Contact Author)
Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
310-456-4684 (Phone)
310-456-4063 (Fax)
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