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This article focuses on three current professionalism challenges in the U.S. legal profession: (i) the problem of neglect, poor client communication, and poor management of client funds; (ii) the need to improve the ethical infrastructures in practice settings to enhance both routine practice and ethical decision-making when lawyers confront ethical challenges; and (iii) the challenge of providing legal services to the poor and working class. For each, it turns out that improving adherence to core values requires not just training lawyers to internalize a model of professionalism, and a continuing commitment to self-regulation in some form, but also implementing improved business practices. In other words, a significant part of our failures as a profession are business failures. These failures occur at the individual, firm, and market levels, and at each level we need to consider the business structures that enhance or impair improved practices.

Business—good business—is not the enemy of lawyers but an important tool to implement our service profession. We need to have a sharper and richer discussion of the business perspective of professional practice, without apologies, if we want to improve the professional practice of U.S. lawyers. In addition, a stronger interdisciplinary conversation with the field of business ethics would help break down the stereotype of business as an amoral, or immoral, enterprise. We must envision business as both a partner and a tool to achieve our larger social goals.


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7 Sep 2022
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  • Subject
    • Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility

    • Legal Profession

  • Journal title
    • Fordham Urban Law Journal

  • Volume
    • 40

  • Pagination
    • 459-480

  • Date submitted

    7 September 2022