Naked Self-Interest? Why the Legal Profession Resists Gatekeeping

34 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2010 Last revised: 9 Jan 2011

Date Written: January 6, 2011


This Article asks and answers the following question: why does the legal profession resist gatekeeping? Or, put another way, why do lawyers resist duties that require them to act to avert harm to their corporate client, its own shareholders, and – possibly – the capital markets? While acknowledging that the economic self-interest of the profession is an undeniable force fueling the bar’s opposition to gatekeeping, this Article argues that the characterization of naked rent-seeking behavior is too simplistic. It argues that economic self-interest exerts a more subtle influence than the conventional story would suggest. In addition, the legal profession’s resistance to gatekeeping is grounded in lawyers’ internalization of attitudes held by the corporate managers serving as the clients’ representatives and lawyers’ lack of empathy for potential shareholder-victims. In short, under-examined psychological forces other than economic self-interest loom large in the profession’s resistance to gatekeeping.

Keywords: regulation of lawyers, legal profession, securities regulation, gatekeeping, social psychology, cognitive dissonance, motivated reasoning, abstract victim, economic self-interest

Suggested Citation

Kim, Sung Hui, Naked Self-Interest? Why the Legal Profession Resists Gatekeeping (January 6, 2011). Florida Law Review, Vol. 63, p. 129, 2011; UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 11-02. Available at SSRN:

Sung Hui Kim (Contact Author)

UCLA School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

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