Legal Profession in Transition

August 2, 1972

Report Outline
Ferment in the legal profession
Role of Lawyers in American Society
Question of Providing Access to the Law

Ferment in the legal profession

Attempt to Understand Changes Taking Place

The Legal profession which once seemed securely anchored to traditional practices and conservative values is busy today trying to determine if the activism of young lawyers and law students has brought lasting changes. The profession may still be predominantly conservative and traditional, but nobody is quite sure at this time. One school of thought that is being voiced in numerous books, bar journal articles and other published studies is that all the ferment is only skin deep and, in time, will fade. Another school maintains that even if the commitment to public service is weaker among some of the young lawyers than they pretend, and less than sincere among established law firms with new pro bono departments,it is still strong enough to have undermined past smugness.

In this setting of uncertainty and hope, the American Bar Association will conduct its 95th annual meeting Aug. 11–17 in San Francisco. Indicative of change that is already taking place, there will be sectional discussion of natural resources law, with its environmental implications, and of minority-group challenges to the present method of financing public school education. Still another topic destined to receive attention, though not on the agenda, is the possibility that soon there may not be enough jobs in the legal profession for all the new and future law-school graduates.

Leon Jaworski of Houston, the ABA president, announced at the association's mid-year meeting at New Orleans in February 1972 that a nine-member Task Force on Professional Utilization had been formed to study the problem. Robert W. Meserve of Boston, who will succeed Jaworski at the conclusion of the San Francisco meeting, has said: “If you think we've seen disruption before, think what it would be if we were pouring out 15,000 qualified lawyers each year who could find nothing to do but raise hell with the system.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Apr. 18, 2008  Public Defenders
Nov. 09, 2007  Prosecutors and the Law
May 22, 1992  Too Many Lawsuits?
Jul. 20, 1984  Lawyers in America
Aug. 02, 1972  Legal Profession in Transition
Feb. 27, 1963  Public Defenders
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