16 Pages

Access to the Legal System in Historical Perspective

ByJerold S. Auerbach

Lawyers and laymen alike must be persuaded that law embodies reason not will; and that it is a mysterious science inaccessible to the uninitiated. The confrontation between new professionals and an old profession can be illuminated by some historical understanding. Legal ethics committees should include lawyers who are not members of the ABA, as well as non lawyers who can view legal ethics from a perspective broader than that of the entrepreneurs of the law. There can be no doubt that many law schools, particularly in the South, long discriminated against blacks. When bar associations came to consider the adoption of Canons of Ethics, the propriety of contingent fees occupied a central place in their deliberations. Members of the ABA voted for court supervision of contingent fees, but not for other fees that lawyers earned. The ethical crusade that produced the canons and the special concern for contingent fees concealed class and ethnic hostility.