Monday, May 14, 2007

How Lawyers Lose Their Way

How Lawyers Lose Their Way:
A Profession Fails Its Creative Minds

by Jean Stefancic, Richard Delgado, Richard Delgado

ISBN: 0822335638
ISBN-13: 9780822335634

Editorial Reviews

"Part I makes an original and engaging move, a dual biography about the interwoven lives of Archibald MacLeish and Ezra Pound. . . . I would not be surprised to find this book in many undergraduate and law school courses. For a course on legal practice its value is easy. For an undergraduate judicial process course, it has the advantages of brevity, affordability, and a human interest. If you teach 'black letter' formalism as a competing theory to behavioral and institutional models of judicial decision-making, and if you also include a unit on the legal profession in your course, this book neatly bridges those topics in intriguing ways. The problems of lawyers are laid out in depressing detail, and this critical perspective will generate much thought."
--Patrick Schmidt, The Law and Politics Book Review

"[How Lawyers Lose Their Way] is particularly well and entertainingly written: the narrative of Pound’s and MacLeish’s relationship is as fascinating as the discussion of formalism is enlightening. The book certainly belongs on all legal academic library shelves, and quite honestly, belongs on the shelves of most attorneys I know."
--Brian Flaherty, Bimonthly Review of Law Books

"This is a highly worthwhile and creative book, one that goes well beyond the usual analysis of what has gone
wrong with the legal profession."
--Steven Keeva, ABAJournal

"[P]rovocative. . . . Recommended."
--M.W. Bowers, CHOICE

"This small book . . . is important because it treats one subject that is vital to all readers of this journal."
--Ronald Goldfarb, Washington Lawyer

"[E]xcellent, nuanced accounts of the conflicted lives of high level lawyers. . . . [It does] much to advance our understanding of the stress and ethical conflicts confronting successful corporate lawyers."
--Michael Rustad, University of Illinois Law Review

Book Description

In this penetrating book, Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado use historical investigation and critical analysis to diagnose the cause of the pervasive unhappiness among practicing lawyers. Most previous writers have blamed the high rate of burnout, depression, divorce, and drug and alcohol dependency among these highly paid professionals on the narrow specialization, long hours, and intense pressures of modern legal practice. Stefancic and Delgado argue that these professional demands are only symptoms of a deeper problem: the way lawyers are taught to think and reason. They show how legal education and practice have been rendered arid and dull by formalism, a way of thinking that values precedent and doctrine above all, exalting consistency over ambiguity, rationality over emotion, and rules over social context and narrative.

Stefancic and Delgado dramatize the plight of modern lawyers by exploring the unlikely friendship between Archibald MacLeish, who gave up a successful but unsatisfying law career to pursue his literary yearnings, and Ezra Pound. Reading the forty-year correspondence between MacLeish and Pound, Stefancic and Delgado draw lessons about the difficulties of attorneys trapped in worlds that give them power, prestige, and affluence but not personal satisfaction, much less creative fulfillment. Long after Pound had embraced fascism, descended into lunacy, and been institutionalized, MacLeish took up his old mentor’s cause, turning his own lack of fulfillment with the law into a meaningful crusade and ultimately securing Pound’s release from St. Elizabeths Hospital. Drawing on MacLeish’s story, Stefancic and Delgado contend that literature, public interest work, and critical legal theory offer tools to contemporary attorneys for finding meaning and overcoming professional dissatisfaction.