The Profession And Its Discontents
Stanford Law School
Ohio State Law Journal
This paper, which draws on chapter two from my forthcoming book, In the Interests of Justice (Oxford University Press 2000), provides an overview of the sources of lawyer discontent. It begins by exploring the structure of practice, with an eye to differentiating causes of disaffection that are inherent in the nature of lawyers' role, and those over which lawyers individually or collectively have some control. Some discontent is an inevitable byproduct of practice, given the circumstances in which lawyers and their clients tangle with the law. Other difficulties reflect changes in the market for legal services, particularly the recent increases in size, competitiveness, commercialization, specialization, and time pressures. However, the paper suggests that lawyers have responded to those changes in ways that are often self-defeating, by attaching undue priority to profits at the expense of other values that could make for greater workplace satisfaction, such as public service, manageable working hours, and accommodation of work/family conflicts. The paper also notes the need for better responses to the racial and gender biases that contribute to lawyer discontent, and compromise the profession's commitment to equal opportunity.
Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 2, 2000
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