Nothing New Under the Sun: How the Legal Profession's Twenty-First Century Challenges Resemble Those of the Turn of the Twentieth Century
23 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2013 Last revised: 24 May 2014
Date Written: 2012
Drawing upon Julius Henry Cohen’s classic 1916 work, 'The Law: Business or Profession?', this Essay explains that the challenges facing the legal profession today are not new and that in current debates lawyers, judges, and law professors too often rely on inaccurate assumptions regarding the history of the legal profession. In particular, this Essay identifies five crises facing the legal profession today that parallel challenges at the turn of the Twentieth Century: (1) determining whether law is a business or a profession; (2) debating whether lawyers have responsibility for civic and business leadership; (3) considering whether lawyers should have control of the market for legal services; (4) promoting reform of legal education; and (5) managing increased diversity. The Essay argues that placing these crises in historical context reveals that the legal profession’s responses to these dilemmas have varied over time, suggests that today’s status quo is neither traditional nor inevitable, and seeks to create space for rethinking assumptions that underpin our current debates.
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