The Professionalism Paradigm Shift: Why Discarding Professional Ideology Will Improve the Conduct and Reputation of the Bar

48 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2010 Last revised: 12 May 2010

Date Written: April 8, 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).

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

Suggested Citation

Pearce, Russell G., The Professionalism Paradigm Shift: Why Discarding Professional Ideology Will Improve the Conduct and Reputation of the Bar (April 8, 1995). New York University Law Review, Vol. 70, p. 1229, 1995, Available at SSRN:

Russell G. Pearce (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
212-636-6834 (Phone)
212-636-6899 (Fax)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics