The Decline of Professionalism

33 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2016 Last revised: 2 Oct 2016

Date Written: July 7, 2016


Traditionally, professionalism conceived of the professions as central to democratic society. Because professionals gained their status through reputation not wealth, they were in the best position to suppress their own self-interest in order to ascertain and pursue the public good. This Article argues that this traditional understanding of the professions was lost as a market ideology took hold in the 1970s. Professionalism gradually became synonymous with the delivery of services. This Article draws on this intellectual history to argue that aspects of the traditional concept of professionalism can and should be revived today.

Keywords: professionalism, legal history, intellectual history, profession, professional ethics, future of the profession

Suggested Citation

Roiphe, Rebecca, The Decline of Professionalism (July 7, 2016). Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 29, 2016, NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2806611, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Roiphe (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
212-431-2804 (Phone)

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