ABOUT THIS BOOK
America has long enjoyed a love/hate relationship with its attorneys; jokes equating lawyers with vermin abound at the same time that our love of litigation is reflected in a doubling of the ranks of lawyers since the 1960s. Though we often see the lawyer as a crusading lone wolf of justice, the illuminating Lives of Lawyers demonstrates that the integrity of individual lawyers is fundamentally influenced by the nature of the legal organizations that have come to dominate the field. In fleshing out these agencies of legal expertise, Kelly offers important insights into the personal ideals of lawyers, the struggle to clarify professionalism as interpreted by the legal origination, and the effects of these factors on society's perceptions of law and lawyering.
Lives of Lawyers paints an intimate portrait of five legal entities: two corporate firms, an in-house corporate counsel's office, and a public interest agency. Each is viewed through a kaleidoscope of client/colleague relationships, connections to civic and community life, income levels and career satisfaction of attorneys, the social status of the organization, and the character of the particular law practiced. These detailed portrayals vividly reveal the diversity inherent to the profession and the wealth of responses to the question of what shapes the values of today's legal practices. The author's deft use of narrative and debt to the discipline of biography and sociology make his five stores a first-rate read.
Kelly gets into the trenches with lawyers comprising these organizations; they don't mince words in passing judgment on themselves, their employers, or the state of the profession--particularly its growing commercialism. Nonetheless, Lives of Lawyers reminds us of the constantly renewed dedication by lawyers to the principles of legal professionalism.
Michael J. Kelly is University Vice President and Professor of Law, Georgetown University.