Author: Los Angeles Richard L. Abel Professor of Law University of California
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
This detailed portrait of American lawyers traces their efforts to professionalize during the last 100 years by erecting barriers to control the quality and quantity of entrants. Abel describes the rise and fall of restrictive practices that dampened competition among lawyers and with outsiders. He shows how lawyers simultaneously sought to increase access to justice while stimulating demand for services, and their efforts to regulate themselves while forestalling external control. Data on income and status illuminate the success of these efforts. Charting the dramatic transformation of the profession over the last two decades, Abel documents the growing number and importance of lawyers employed outside private practice (in business and government, as judges and teachers) and the displacement of corporate clients they serve. Noting the complexity of matching ever more diverse entrants with more stratified roles, he depicts the mechanism that law schools and employers have created to allocate graduates to jobs and socialize them within their new environments. Abel concludes with critical reflections on possible and desirable futures for the legal profession.