Cover image for The lawyer's myth : reviving ideals in the legal profession
The lawyer's myth : reviving ideals in the legal profession
Bennett, Walter, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
x, 240 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
KF297 .B4 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Lawyers today are in a moral crisis. The popular perception of the lawyer, both within the legal community and beyond, is no longer the Abe Lincoln of American mythology, but is often a greedy, cynical manipulator of access and power. In The Lawyer's Myth, Walter Bennett goes beyond the caricatures to explore the deeper causes of why lawyers are losing their profession and what it will take to bring it back.

Bennett draws on his experience as a lawyer, judge, and law teacher, as well as upon oral histories of lawyers and judges, in his exploration of how and why the legal profession has lost its ennobling mythology. Effectively using examples from history, philosophy, psychology, mythology, and literature, Bennett shows that the loss of professionalism is more than merely the emergence of win-at-all-cost strategies and a scramble for personal wealth. It is something more profound--a loss of professional community and soul. Bennett identifies the old heroic myths of American lawyers and shows how they informed the values of professionalism through the middle of the last century. He shows why, in our more diverse society, those myths are inadequate guides for today's lawyers. And he also discusses the profession's agony over its trickster image and demonstrates how that archetype is not only a psychological reality, but a necessary component of a vibrant professional mythology for lawyers.

At the heart of Bennett's eloquently written book is a call to reinvigorate the legal professional community. To do this, lawyers must revive their creative capacities and develop a meaningful, professional mythology--one based on a deeper understanding of professionalism and a broader, more compassionate ideal of justice.

Author Notes

Walter Bennett is a lawyer and writer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is former director of the Intergenerational Legal Ethics Program at the University of North Carolina Law School and has served as a trial court judge and trial lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has published in the areas of legal ethics, juvenile law, human rights, and constitutional law

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

As early as Shakespearean days, lawyers have been the subject of public criticism, but high-profile legal shenanigans of more recent times have seriously corroded the image of the legal profession. Bennett, a former trial lawyer, a judge, and a law professor teaching legal ethics, has been well placed to observe how lawyers and law students view and practice morality within their profession. Bennett examines law and morality in the history and mythology of the legal practice. He also talks to lawyers and judges for their perspectives on the philosophy and psychology that go into the practice of this high-status profession with high earning potential. How do lawyers balance their own personal morals with those of clients and a system that offers the temptations of legal technicalities at every turn? Bennett's research reveals deeply held passions regarding law and justice and personal struggles to elevate regard for the profession and to create a new vision of professionalism. Lawyers and law students alike will enjoy this thoughtful book. --Vernon Ford

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 The Professional Woundp. 9
2 The Dark Landscape of the Profession: The Legal Academy and the Loss of Idealsp. 13
3 The Profession and the Loss of Professional Mythologyp. 28
4 The Mythological Function of the Lost Idealsp. 51
5 The Negative Archetype in Professional Mythologyp. 60
6 Professional Mythology and the Loss of Communityp. 73
7 Why the Profession Should Be Savedp. 86
8 A Preface to New Ideals: Coming to Terms with the Historical Masculinity of the Professionp. 93
9 Realizing the Feminine in Lawyers' Work: Conceiving a New Ideal of Powerp. 105
10 Beginning the Lawyer's Inner Journey: New Models and Herosp. 113
11 Something Greater than Oneself: Envisioning a New New Ideal, Understanding Lawyers' Faithp. 124
12 Pursuing the Lawyers' Faith: Reconvening the Campfire, Creating Storytelling Models for a Broader Ideal of Justicep. 155
13 The Roles of Law Schools and the Bar in Conceiving a New Professionp. 169
Reflectionsp. 191
Appendix A A Model Mentoring Program for Young Lawyersp. 195
Appendix B A Model Mentoring Program for Law Studentsp. 203
Attachment A Duties of Statewide Mentoring Coordinatorp. 211
Notesp. 213
Indexp. 235