Book Review: The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change

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James E. Moliterno, The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change, Oxford University Press, 2013, 252 pages, inclusive of index, Hardcover, $85.00, ISBN 978-0-19-991763-1

James E. Moliterno is the Vincent Bradford Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law.  This book would be a good addition to any law library as it offers an excellent historical perspective of the American Bar Association and its responses (or lack thereof) to change and crisis. 

The book is divided by significant events in American history, such as immigration in the early 20th century, the rise in communism, the civil rights movement, Watergate, and litigation boom and how the profession handled each event or failed to handle.  Each event clearly shows where the profession had the opportunity to effectuate real change not only within the profession but in society overall and where it fell short.  Even when change occurred it rarely affected the current members but only future members.

In the preface Mr. Moliterno acknowledges that the book isn’t designed to solve any particular crisis but to bring attention to the legal profession’s way of handling crisis management.  Hopefully, as Mr. Moliterno states, by reading this book, the legal profession can learn from and improve on our professions’ approach to change and crisis and actually effectuate real change.

Whitney A. Curtis is the Assistant Director for Public Services at University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Library.

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