The Three Ages of Modern American Lawyering and the Current Crisis in the Legal Profession and Legal Education

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date



professional identity formation


"[B]ar leaders and legal educators must carefully evaluate how market forces are reshaping expert professionalism to determine whether social trustee professionalism eventually will be crowded out or whether professionalism itself will cease to be a useful tool for understanding lawyers’ identities. That assessment will need to take place not just in large law firms but in solo practices, small and mid-sized firms, public interest organizations, and government agencies. Efforts to study professionalism should go beyond an analysis of technical knowledge to identify a broad portfolio of skills that predict success in law practice. Moreover, there should be a recognition that the meaning of social trusteeship can differ across practice sectors, especially when comparing law firms to government agencies and public interest organizations. Ideally, these inquiries will offer a more nuanced picture of the ways in which lawyers understand their work and allow law schools to prepare students to navigate their own careers effectively." (459–460)