Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Book Review of Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers: Restoring Responsibility in America

American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 51, p. 387, 2012

University of Memphis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 34

2 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2010 Last revised: 15 Oct 2012

Andrew Jay McClurg

University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Date Written: August 31, 2012

Abstract

Contrary to its title, Philip K. Howard’s Life Without Lawyers is not an anti-lawyer screed. It does not argue for a society without lawyers and suggests only in passing that America has too many lawyers. A more apt title would be “Life Without Rules” or maybe “Life Without Law.”

Howard argues that America’s enormous inventory of laws and bureaucratic rules is crippling society by making it impossible for people and institutions to do their jobs effectively. In his opinion, the primary reason is because they live in fear of potential legal consequences. He asserts that the rights-explosion of the 1960s has led to a rights-obsessed, risk-averse culture that overvalues individual rights to the detriment of broader communitarian interests.

His principal solution is to grant judges and administrators more discretion to make decisions without the necessity of having a legally supportable record to back up their decisions.

McClurg’s review contains some critique, but concludes overall that Howard’s book is a powerful one that is worth reading.

Suggested Citation

McClurg, Andrew Jay, Book Review of Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers: Restoring Responsibility in America (August 31, 2012). American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 51, p. 387, 2012; University of Memphis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1632459

Andrew Jay McClurg (Contact Author)

University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law ( email )

1 Front Street
Memphis, TN 38103
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
89
Rank
244,083
Abstract Views
1,468