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The Big Answer

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A Nation Under Lawyers: How the Crisis in the Legal Profession is Transforming American Society

a book by Mary Ann Glendon

(our site's book review)


Glendon says that the scrupulous, objective, and public-spirited counselor of times past has been replaced by the competitive, confrontational, media-savvy, and self-interested litigator, more concerned with short-term self-interest than professional ethics or the ethical law tradition. It's a win-at-all-costs context that is part of the overall corruption of the American Dream. Most communitarians would cite the need for the type of ethics in which a man's word is his bond and people act legally out of a sense of morality and community. But—sadly—we are not raising the type of citizens that can fulfill such a forlorn hope. Hence lawyers. (And it is NOT a good first step if lawyers are chained together at the bottom of the ocean. Our economy needs the money they spend on yachts and Ferraris! Besides, do the poor sharks really deserve severe indigestion?)

Shark (not deserving indigestion)
Shark (not deserving indigestion)

But seriously, this is a good exposé on the legal profession, which is more than merely overly commercialized. It's also bereft of honesty-based and loyalty-based morality and context. Too much relying on law and the courts "has been a disaster for the political health of the country," says Glendon. And the compact of community itself is being corrupted. People don't feel they can get together and resolve issues as a community or town or city. Local politics is dominated by litigation, disempowerment, and people screaming because they never learned problem solving, active listening, conflict resolution and the other skills that are essential—but absent—elements of every child's upbringing, training, and education. P.E.T. parents and kids learn problem solving, active listening, conflict resolution as part of the parenting methods. One learns it in other Authoritative Parenting Programs as well. But most citizens have NOT yet learned these skills. Hence lawyers.