In the Interests of Justice: Reforming the Legal Profession / Edition 1

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Two thousand years ago, Seneca described advocates not as seekers of truth but as accessories to injustice, "smothered by their prosperity." This unflattering assessment has only worsened over time. The vast majority of Americans now perceive lawyers as arrogant, unaffordable hired guns whose ethical practices rank just slightly above those of used car salesmen.
In this penetrating new book, Deborah L. Rhode goes beyond the commonplace attacks on lawyers to provide the first systematic study of the structural problems confronting the legal profession. A past president of the Association of American Law Schools and senior counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during Clinton's impeachment proceedings, Rhode brings an insider's knowledge to the labyrinthine complexities of how the law works, or fails to work, for most Americans and often for lawyers themselves. She sheds much light on problems with the adversary system, the commercialization of practice, bar disciplinary processes, race and gender bias, and legal education. She argues convincingly that the bar's current self-regulation must be replaced by oversight structures that would put the public's interests above those of the profession. She insists that legal education become more flexible, by offering less expensive degree programs that would prepare paralegals to provide much needed low cost assistance. Most important, she calls for a return to ethical standards that put public service above economic self-interest.
Elegantly written and touching on such high profile cases as the O.J. Simpson trial and the Starr investigation, In the Interests of Justice uncovers fundamental flaws in our legal system and proposes sweeping reforms.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rhode brings a livley style to a subject that is more typically covered in a drone of rhetoric and legalese. Her frame of reference is expansive enough to include Seneca, Dostoevski, Wilde, Auden and even a New Yorker cartoon in which a lawyer asks his client: 'So, Mr. Pitikin, how much justice can you afford?' ....It's refreshing to read a book about lawyers that ponders 'the profession's moral universe' without a sarcastic smirk.'"—Jonathan Kirsch, The Washington Post Book World

"This is an important and timely book. It provides a comprehensive survey of the common complaints against lawyers and the legal system; a careful analysis of the most serious problems with the way lawyers perform their jobs, and make—or fail to make—available their services, and an imposing array of ambitious but workable proposals for reform. The book expertly builds upon the best that has been thought and said about legal ethics and legal practices in the last 25 years."—Robert W. Gordon, Fred A. Johnston Professor of Law, Yale University

"A thoughtful and well documented analysis, from a broad public perspective, of basic and enduring problems of the American legal profession. In the Interests of Justice presents the insights of a distinguished scholar into legal ethics, the cost of legal services, the delays in the legal system, the role of the law schools, and 'life' in contemporary law practice."—Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr., Trustee Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania

Jonathan Kirsch
Rhode brings a lively style to a subject that is more typically covered in a drone of rhetoric and legalese....Looking at the problem from within the legal profession, she displays an intimacy and a measure of compassion that are unusual in what is otherwise a sober study of institutional reform. At the same time, however, she calls on lawyers to look within themselves for the solutions to both the public-relations problem they have created for themselves and the larger institutional crisis in which they are caught up....A good many burned-out and stressed-out lawyers will find In the Interests of Justice to be inspiring and invigorating, if only because it appeals to the idealism that attracted at least some of us to the practice of law in the first place. Rhode concedes the difficulty of convincing the legal profession "that there is a there beyond the ceremonial rhetoric of professionalism campaigns," but it's refreshing to read a book about lawyers that ponders "the profession's moral universe" without a sarcastic smirk.
Washington Post
Library Journal
Rhode, a professor of law and director of the Keck Center on Legal Ethics and the Legal Profession at Stanford Law School, here criticizes recent trends in legal practice, citing both public and professional opinion. She also offers a reform agenda, arguing that "the challenges facing the American bar can only be met through fundamental changes in professional responsibility and regulation." Her sharpest criticism is directed toward the major gap between advocates' overzealous representation of powerful interests and the inadequate representation of the poor and minorities. By integrating criticism of the legal profession with its more positive aspects, Rhode builds a more coherent oversight structure that balances the profession's need for autonomy with public accountability. This clear, well-written critique will appeal to those interested in roles of law, lawyers, and the legal profession in American society. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.--Steven Puro, St. Louis Univ. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195165548
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 5.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah L. Rhode is Professor of Law and Director of the Keck Center on Legal Ethics and the Legal Profession at Stanford Law School. A past president of the Association of American Law Schools and senior counsel for the House Judiciary Committee on impeachment issues during Clinton's impeachment proceedings, she is the author of Legal Ethics, The Legal Profession: Responsibility and Regulation and, forthcoming from OUP, Ethics in Practice: Lawyers' Roles, Responsibilities, and Regulation. She lives in Stanford, California.

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