Transforming the Legal Profession & the Legal System

Glendon, Mary Ann, A Nation Under Lawyers: How the Crisis in the Legal Profession is Transforming American Society. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA (1994).
This book takes the reader into the late twentieth-century legal world. The author views the legal profession as a profession in turbulence. She gives her frank evaluation of the people and ideas that are transforming the law-dependent culture.

Katz, Roberta, Justice Matters: Rescuing the Legal System for the 21st Century. Discovery Institute, Seattle WA (1997).
The author brings to her writing experience from both anthropology and law. She encourages fundamental rethinking of the adversarial process, asks basic questions about the American Legal System and makes suggestions for improvement.

Sells, Benjamin, The Soul of the Law: Understanding Lawyers and the Law. Element Books, Rockport, MA (1994).
This lawyer/psychotherapist author focuses on the stresses in society as reflected in lawyers’ experiences. He offers insight on how one can enrich life by bringing ideals and passion back into the legal profession.

Interdisciplinary Theory

Gallway, Timothy, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. Random House (1977).
Disguised as a manual for harnessing the “inner skills” necessary to compete on the tennis court, this easy-to-read manual translates to any endeavor. It might be easy to categorize this book as another of the “east meets west” genre; however, such a description would miss the pragmatic wisdom of the exercises and examples that inspire new approaches to old challenges.

Illich, Ivan, Toward a History of Needs. Pantheon Books (1978) and Tools for Conviviality. Marion Boyers Publishing (new edition 2001).
From a unique perspective that’s never been replicated, Illich illuminates and challenges many of the purported immutable cultural “habits” that determine the course of education, health care, the legal profession and economics. These books lay a good foundation for discussing new relationships between law and society, and more specifically, the lawyer and client.

Lipton, Bruce, The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. Elite Books (2005).
Dr. Lipton is a molecular biologist, who has contributed cutting edge research to the emerging science of Epigenetics: how biology and genetics are influenced and even controlled by environment, stress, emotions and beliefs. Understandable, entertaining and informative, this book gives simple, concrete examples of how “connections” within any system determine the health and advancement of that system more than any other factor – thus emphasizing that law, as the means by which our society regulates its relationships and connections, is a healing profession.

Pink, Daniel H., A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Penguin Group (2006).
Dan Pink motivates today’s professional to explore a new resource for problem solving and client-relations. Whether the reader interprets the “right brain” metaphorically or literally, Pink makes a case for why and how more creative thinking is not just useful, but required for success.

Wilber, Ken, A Brief History of Everything. Shambala Publications (2000).
Among the more accessible of Wilber’s works, this particular book offers some basic vocabularies and conceptual tools to aid analysis and discussion of any “transformational” process. His analysis of holons and the evolutionary dynamic of “transcend and include” are seminal pieces of post-modern systems theory. In addition, this work sets the stage for one of Wilber’s more brilliant and original ideas: the “pre/trans fallacy,” an idea that identifies the problematic tendency we have to “long for the good old days” to the detriment of original transformation.

Balance, Joy and Satisfaction in Legal Practice

Keeva, Steven, Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life. Contemporary Books, Chicago, IL (1999).
This author gathered stories of lawyers who have changed the way they practice law. The emphasis is on coordinating inner values with the outer life and work. Inspiring lawyer profiles trace this search for deeper meaning.

Kaufman, George, The Lawyer’s Guide to Balancing Life and Work. ABA Law Practice Management, Chicago, IL (1999).
The signs of burnout along with suggestions to prevent, cure or cope with it are addressed. The author has included information, anecdotes and simple “how to” exercises.

Palmer, Parker, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA (2000).
Writer, teacher, activist Parker Palmer explores the “vocation” in this clear, vital and honest book. Telling stories from his own life, he shares insights from darkness and depression with learnings from fulfillment and joy.

Legal Ethics

Bell, Derrick, Ethical Ambition, Bloomsbury (2002).
Professor Derrick Bell, the first African-American tenured law professor at Harvard Law School, offers a personal reflection on achieving success while maintaining a life of integrity and purpose. He pursues six principles he deems significant to ethical success: passion, courage and risk taking, relationships, faith, inspiration and humility. In reflecting on the influences of these principles to his own journey, he offers a path for self-reflection and growth to the reader.

Jack, Rand and Jack, Dana Crowley, Moral Vision and Professional Decisions: The Changing Values of Women and Men Lawyers, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY (1989).
Through interviews with 36 attorneys, the authors have explored the thinking patterns of moral thought among women and men attorneys.

Linowitz, Sol, The Betrayed Profession: Lawyering at the End of the Twentieth Century, Harvard University Press (1998).
Linowitz, an elder statesman and former U.S. Ambassador, assesses the state of the legal profession and encourages lawyers to look to the roots and history of the profession. He suggests the lawyer has bartered away his independence and it is time to say “NO” to clients when the course of action requested is morally or ethically questionable.

Critiques of The Legal Profession

Arron, Deborah L. Running from the Law: Why Good Lawyers are Getting out of the Legal Profession, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA (1989).
An anthology of insights and histories of lawyers whose choices made “powerful statements about their values.” One of the early books that broke the conspiracy of silence about dissatisfaction within the legal profession.

Arron, Deborah L. What You Can Do with a Law Degree. A Lawyer’s Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside and Around the Law, Decision Books (2003).Â
The author takes the reader through self-discovery in a structured and practical manner. A useful tool for lawyers in a decision-making process about career choice.

Bachman, Walt, Law vs. Life: What Lawyers are Afraid to Say about the Legal Profession, Four Directions Press, New York, NY (1995).
The author speaks with candor and cynicism about the legal profession. He focuses on the increasing demands of the legal marketplace and the “moral neutering” imposed by what he views as the lawyer’s ethical duty of advocacy.

Kronman, Anthony T, The Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA (1995).
The author describes a spiritual crisis affecting the American Legal Profession. He attributes it to the collapse of what he calls the ideal of the lawyer-statesman: a set of values that prizes good judgment above technical competence and that encourages a public-spirited devotion to the law.

Stefancic and Delgado, How Lawyers Lose Their Way: A Profession Fails Its Creative Minds (Duke University Press, 2005)
This unusual 85-page book uses the story of Archibald MacLeish as the backdrop for raising questions about the efficacy of the legal profession (and then, by analogy, the medical profession) for professionals themselves as well as society at large. The authors focus on “formalism” as the disease to which lawyers, judges, law firms and law schools have succumbed; they loosely offer as a solution the use of “interdisciplinary critical theory.” In the interest of full disclosure, this book should have been the opening chapters of a deeper book.  Nonetheless, it’s a worthy attempt to carve out some new territory in the discussion about the state of the legal profession. Its brevity makes for a useful read as a springboard for discussion.

American Intellectual History

Menand, Louis, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2001).
Covering American history in the years between the Civil War and the end of the First World War, Menand draws masterful portraits of four giants of American thought – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., William James, Charles Sanders Pierce, and John Dewey – whose ideas changed the way Americans think.

Alternative & New Paradigms in the Law

Levine, Stewart, Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict Into Collaboration, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA (1998).
The author, an attorney and consultant, offers tools that get to the core of conflict with guidelines that help craft collaborative agreements.

Stolle, Dennis P., Wexler, David and Winnick, Bruce, Practicing Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Law as a Helping Profession, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, NC (2000).
The authors offer a unique theoretical paradigm for approaching contemporary legal issues. With emphasis on the psychological impact of law, they demonstrate how this model can operate in a variety of legal settings. The authors offer concrete ways for lawyers to practice law as helping professionals.