Professionalism: The Next Level

During the 1990s, concern for lawyer civility was the frequent focus of those concerned with lawyer professionalism. The organized bar took the lead in responding to the civility “crisis” in the profession. A more serious threat to professionalism has recently arisen in response to perceived lawyer involvement in corporate scandals and abusive tax-avoidance schemes. The federal government has adopted statutes and rules that supplant the traditional notions of lawyer independence and self-regulation. To avoid further government encroachment, the legal profession, acting primarily through law firms, must act to reestablish professional independence, especially independence from dishonest clients who could involve lawyers in schemes causing financial harm to the public.