The Professionalism Paradigm Shift: Why Discarding Professional Ideology Will Improve the Conduct and Reputation of the Bar
Russell G. Pearce
Fordham University School of Law
April 8, 1995
New York University Law Review, Vol. 70, p. 1229, 1995
The Article explains how the Professionalism Paradigm distinguishes between self-interested businesspersons and altruistic professionals who place the public good above their own interests and those of their clients. The legal profession has used this Business-Profession dichotomy to obtain control of the delivery legal services, including a legislative monopoly on the practice of law. Today, the Professionalism Paradigm faces a crisis as leading lawyers, judges, and scholars complain that law has become a business and is no longer a profession.
The Article “identifies this shift as a time for hope rather than as a cause for despair. Applying Thomas S. Kuhn's theory of paradigm shifts, Professor Pearce traces the transformation of law practice from a profession to a business. Explaining that the crisis created by the proliferation of business activities in law practice cannot be reconciled with the Professionalism Paradigm, he predicts that a Business Paradigm is emerging. Professor Pearce concludes by suggesting an approach to the Business Paradigm midway between a pure market approach and the re-creation of the status quo. This "Middle Range" approach would continue bar admission while permitting non-lawyers to practice law and substituting market and government regulation for self-regulation. Professor Pearce argues that this approach will likely free law practice of the taint of hypocrisy, foster a realistic community ethic of commitment to the common good, and improve the quality and delivery of legal services.” Abstract, 70 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1229, 1229 (1995).
Number of Pages in PDF File: 48
Keywords: legal profession, legal history, professionalism, legal ethics, law as a business, business-profession dichotomy, public good, lawyers, unauthorized practice of law, market for legal services, nonlawyer practice
Date posted: April 10, 2010 ; Last revised: May 12, 2010