Legal Profession

Richard L. Abel

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

 Legal Profession

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Lawyers (especially criminal defense counsel) are often asked: “How can you represent these clients?” Common law lawyers—especially American—respond by invoking “The Adversary System Excuse.” They are hired guns, compelled by the “principle of professionalism” to advocate vigorously while being absolved of moral responsibility by the “principle of non-accountability.” Common law judges endorse this theory because they are more reactive than their civil law counterparts and hence depend on opposing counsel to develop the facts and argue the law. This article examines theories of legal representation, interaction between judges and lawyers, alternatives to law, the effects of the size and composition of the legal profession on courts, ensuring the right to counsel, and unresolved tensions between law and politics. It also discusses judicial influence on the legal profession, lawyer influence on courts, the market for adjudication and legal representation, the consequences of demography, and achieving justice.

Keywords: lawyers; courts; law; judges; legal representation; right to counsel; politics; adjudication; justice; demography

Article.  5986 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Politics and Law

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