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True Confessions About the Role of Lawyers in a Democracy

20 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2009  

Fred C. Zacharias

University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: May 2009


The title of this Symposium, The Lawyer’s Role in a Contemporary Democracy, has several possible interpretations. It could represent a call to discuss the nature of democracy itself. Alternatively, it might employ the term 'contemporary democracy' as shorthand for freedoms commonly associated with liberal democracies, such as free speech and equality, and anticipate that Symposium participants will explore how lawyers can promote those freedoms. Although this essay discusses these approaches, it ultimately takes a different perspective. Fordham Law School’s Louis Stein Center for Professional Ethics, which typically focuses on how lawyers should act in their professional lives, has sponsored this Symposium. Given the Center’s orientation, I perceive its invitation as encouraging the Symposium participants to consider the common notion that attorneys, because of their status, have unique obligations to support law reform enhancing individual rights and open, representative government.

Keywords: legal ethics, professional responsibility

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Zacharias, Fred C., True Confessions About the Role of Lawyers in a Democracy (May 2009). Fordham Law Review, Vol. 77, No. 6, May 2009; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 09-019. Available at SSRN:

Fred C. Zacharias (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

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