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The Moral Compass of the American Lawyer

Truth, Justice, Power, and Greed

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


These are perilous times for Americans who need access to the legal system. Too many lawyers blatantly abuse power and trust, engage in reckless ethical misconduct, grossly unjust billing practices, and dishonesty disguised as client protection. All this has undermined the credibility of lawyers and the authority of the legal system. In the court of public opinion, many lawyers these days are guiltier than the criminals or giant corporations they defend.

Is the public right? In this eye-opening, incisive book, Richard Zitrin and Carol Langford, two practicing lawyers and distinguished law professors, shine a penetrating light on the question everyone is asking: Why do lawyers behave the way they do? All across the country, lawyers view certain behavior as "ethical" while average citizens judge that same conduct "immoral." Now, with expert analysis of actual cases ranging from murder to class action suits, Zitrin and Langford investigate lawyers' behavior and its impact on our legal system. The result is a stunningly clear-eyed exploration of law as it is practiced in America today--and a cogent, groundbreaking program for legal reform.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 29, 1999 – As a starting place for a broad-reaching contemplation of the moral challenges that face a much-maligned profession, Zitrin and Langford's book is as good as any. The authors ask whether it is possible for a lawyer to remain a decent human being while practicing law in the current system. Their conclusion is less than sanguine. Each chapter addresses a different type of ethical dilemma that lawyers regularly face in their practice. The earlier chapters deal with the types of scenarios that underlie the general public's distrust of lawyers: criminal trial attorneys who protect or become complicit with defendants; corporate attorneys who do the same for their wealthy clients. The book then moves on to more "lawyerly" concerns, such as the difficulties of representing a "class" in a class action and the use of attorney/client privilege by in-house corporate counsel. The authors, both practitioners and teachers, conclude with a chapter on their view of the changes necessary to protect the ethical future of the legal profession. General readers will likely savor the real-life accounts of unethical and sometimes criminally liable attorneys, while attorneys themselves may have little incentive to finish a book that implies that common human decency and morality are most often left at the door in the practice of law. If there's a fundamental flaw to the book, it's the emphasis on extreme examples of bad behavior rather than on the moral tightropes that even the most ethical lawyers walk every day. Major ad/ promo.
The Moral Compass of the American Lawyer
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Sociology
  • Published: Apr 20, 1999
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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