26 Pages Posted: 26 May 2002 Last revised: 22 Jul 2013
Date Written: 2002
The prevailing trend within the legal community has been to associate the recent decline of professionalism in the practice of law with the emergence of increasing commercialism, indicating that law has become more a business than a profession. Despite the evidence apparently supporting the position that law has evolved into a business, some scholars have responded by reaffirming the professionalism model, arguing that legal practice remains true to its professional ideals. These scholars admit that the professional paradigm is not without its flaws, but argue that it is more likely to lead to a better practice of law than the business paradigm.
This Essay suggests that the abiding faith many scholars have expressed in the professionalism model more closely parallels a declaration of religious belief than an empirical or analytical conclusion developed through systematic reasoning or observation. This critique is certainly not intended as an endorsement of what one scholar has called a "dogma[ ] of liberalism" that "religious beliefs are irrational or non-rational and therefore cannot meet the standards of public reason." Rather, consistent with the ideas I have expressed elsewhere, I draw a parallel here specifically to those religious arguments that, because they are accessible only to believers, are unlikely to be persuasive to others.
Specifically, this Essay engages in an examination of the views of Dean Anthony Kronman, whose position is instructive both because of his status in the legal community and because his views appear to have evolved over the course of more than a decade. Part I broadly traces Kronman's loss of faith in the legal profession in the early 1990s, followed by his more recent reaffirmation of the professionalism model. Part II offers a closer look at the evolution of Kronman's views, noting his current use of both religious imagery and a seemingly religious methodology to support his belief in professionalism. Part III carries the analysis one step further, examining the methods of response used by Kronman and other believers to attack the heretical views of those who favor alternative models of legal practice, such as a business model. This Essay concludes that the approach of the believers, perhaps useful in preaching to the converted, is unlikely to be an effective means of convincing nonbelievers that such faith in legal professionalism is justified.
Keywords: legal professionalism, kronman
JEL Classification: K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Levine, Samuel J., Faith in Legal Professionalism: Believers and Heretics (2002). Maryland Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 1, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=304579