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September 27, 2003

Schiltz’s “Sermon” Should Be Mandatory Reading for Everyone Who Cares About Lawyers and the Legal Profession

Filed under: pre-06-2006,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 8:35 pm

Editor’s Note: Below you will find the opening of a lengthy posting that was inadvertently deleted from the archives of this weblog, and which had summarized or quoted key portions of Professor/Dean [now federal district judge] Schiltz’s article,”On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession,” 52 Vand. L. Rev. 871 (81 pp pdf). As argued below, it is well worth reading in its entirety, or — at the very least — in the condensed form found in the Bar News publication of the Washington State Bar Assn, “Money and Ethics: The Young Lawyer’s Conundrum” (January 2000).  Also see our post, “Do lawyers choose to be unhappy” (March 29, 2006).

Today, I’m preaching (not posting). It may be four years old, but the law review article On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession, 52 Vand. L. Rev. 871, by Professor Patrick J. Schiltz, is a “must read” for anyone who truly cares about the well-being of individual lawyers and about the future of the legal profession — that should include every law school applicant and student, recent graduate, professor, school administrator, firm managing partner, bar leader, and practicing attorney. (College and high school counselors, parents, spouses, and significant others, should also take a close look.) The Schiltz Article provides scholarship, perspective and context to help explain the recent Boston Globe/LexisOne puff piece Lawyers Questioning, Abandoning Their Profession (by Ralph Ranalli, Sept. 2003), while underscoring the City Journal article “My Life As a Law Associate,” by Jonathan Foreman (Winter, 1997), which was recently cited at Civil Procedure and MyShingle.

In many ways, our profession is in such a sorry state because law schools and firms have adopted and perpetuated [perpetrated?] lowest-common-denominator values (mostly driven by greed and made worse by pretension), and because individual attorneys have gladly or blindly embraced those values. Too many lawyers have then decided to live with, and made excuses for, the intolerable consequences. That’s the bad news. The good news is that individuals can choose better values in order to give better career advice, change institutions, or make corrections in their lives.

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