Professions of Law

66 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2010 Last revised: 16 Jul 2018

See all articles by Barry Sullivan

Barry Sullivan

Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Date Written: Summer 1996


Many lawyers in this country think of themselves as members of a noble and learned profession, whose history and culture are marked by great deeds and high ideals. This picture is accurate enough, at least insofar as it goes, but it has little to do with what most lawyers do - or have done - most of the time. Perhaps that is why others have viewed us in a different light. The most fair-minded of our critics are curious about the causes of the profession's apparent decline; others have already passed judgment, inviting us only to exercise the profession's corporate right of allocation. If society now holds the legal profession in low esteem, one view suggests, at least society now has the legal profession that it deserves. But that is small comfort to anyone. Fortunately, a prominent lawyer and two experienced law teachers have recently tried their hands at describing and analyzing the causes of the malaise that now seemingly demoralizes all parts of the legal profession. There is much to be gained from their insights.

Part Two of this Essay will consider the views of Sol Linowitz, a practitioner who believes that the decline of the legal profession is largely attributable to the loss of a sense of professionalism among the members of the practicing bar. Part Three will consider the views of Mary Ann Glendon, a scholar who perceives a shift in the legal role from "craft" to "social instrumentality" as a central problem. Part Four will examine the views of Anthony Kronman, a scholar who sees the problem in terms of a narrowing of the lawyer's role. In Part Five, we shall consider some commonalities among these disparate approaches, as well as some further areas of possible inquiry.

Keywords: Legal Profession, Professionalism, Legal Ethics, Legal Education

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K4, K40

Suggested Citation

Sullivan, Barry, Professions of Law (Summer 1996). Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1996, Available at SSRN:

Barry Sullivan (Contact Author)

Loyola University Chicago School of Law ( email )

25 E. Pearson
Chicago, IL 60611
United States


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