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The Vanishing American Lawyer [Hardcover]

by Thomas D. Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

February 1, 2010 0199737738 978-0199737734
Over 4,000 lawyers lost their positions at major American law firms in 2008 and 2009. In The Vanishing American Lawyer, Professor Thomas Morgan discusses the legal profession and the need for both law students and lawyers to adapt to the needs and expectations of clients in the future. The world needs people who understand institutions that create laws and how to access those institutions' works, but lawyers are no longer part of a profession that is uniquely qualified to advise on a broad range of distinctly legal questions. Clients will need advisors who are more specialized than many lawyers are today and who have more expertise in non-legal issues. Many of today's lawyers do not have a special ability to provide such services.

While American lawyers have been hesitant to change the ways they can improve upon meeting client needs, lawyers in other countries, notably Great Britain and Australia, have been better at adapting. Law schools must also recognize the world their students will face and prepare them to operate successfully within it. Professor Morgan warns that lawyers must adapt to new client needs and expectations. The term "professional" should be applied to individuals who deserve praise for skilled and selfless efforts, but this term may lead to occupational suicide if it becomes a justification for not seeing and adapting to the world ahead.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Thomas D. Morgan has been the Oppenheim Professor of Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law at The George Washington University Law School since 1989. He has served as Dean at the Emory University School of Law and on the faculties of the University of Illinois and Brigham Young University. In 1990, he served as President of the Association of American Law Schools. Professor Morgan has taught and written about the legal profession for over 35 years and is co-author of the widely-used law school casebook "Problems and Materials on Professional Responsibility" (10th Edition 2008). He served as Reporter for the American Bar Association Commission on Professionalism, as one of three Reporters for the American Law Institute's "Restatement of the Law (Third): The Law Governing Lawyers," and as one of three Reporters for the American Bar Association's Ethics 2000 Commission to revise the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (February 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199737738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199737734
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #768,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A modest contribution to a very crowed field July 10, 2011
Format:Hardcover
Law is probably the most studied profession in American sociology, and for good reason: despite widespread concern about an overproduction of lawyers, most personal legal needs remain unmet for the majority of Americans. Part of the reason for the flurry of scholarship on law is that practitioners, like Morgan, have taken an active interest in studying themselves - possibly, I suspect, due to the easy opportunities for publishing in the ever-expanding pages of American law reviews and legal publishing outlets. Consequently, it is very difficult to come up with a truly original take on the profession without original data collection on the magnitude of the Heinz and Laumann or Halliday studies, and therefore I will temper some of my criticism of Morgan's work.

Morgan attempts to make waves by arguing that law, one of the few ideal-type professions identified in the sociological cannon, is actually not a profession at all. However, as one gets deeper into the book, one realizes that he is only referring to what Eliot Freidson calls "social trustee professionalism" - that is, broadly defined, lawyers' commitment to the public interest. Once this became clear, I felt a little disappointed - this is a basic point that has been made time and time again. Coming from sociology, I was expecting a more stinging critique of the bar's social closure practices when I read "not a profession" or an emphasis on how the bar is splitting into "hemispheres". By claiming that law is not a profession in the introduction, Morgan draws in readers but fails to satisfy those looking for a sociological perspective.

The book gets better as it goes on, though.
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