Lawyers

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Must reads

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Chapter XVI ("Causes Which Mitigate the Tyranny of the Majority in the United States")

Anthony Kronman, "The Lost Lawyer".

Please research

  • I'm not sure if this QUITE falls under what you're going into, but if you can swing it, I'd love to see what you can do with the way an increasingly litigious society has harmed us. Medical malpractice, in particular, is a field that this relates to, but, this article about "pedophilia hysteria" points to how this might be reaching its arms into other aspects of the world.
  • The effect of self-regulation on the legal profession, especially as such regulation pertains to ethics. To my knowledge no studies exist that examine the effectiveness of this arrangement. A particularly troubling example is the interplay between law school honor systems and bar ethics rules. Accusations against law students, regardless of validity, can create great prejudice against a hopeful practitioner. Such accusations often result in immediate consequences for the accused, and can present a significant challenge to bar admission even after acquittal. Further, the lack of ethical sanctions (whether de jure or de facto) for "gaming" the legal system is troubling.

Corruption in action

  • How prosecutorial discretion and sentencing are influenced by identity of defendants, e.g. their races, and the dependence of elected prosecutors and judges on votes from identity group voting blocs. As a specific example, think here of racism in the American South -- even more particularly, prosecution and sentencing in post-Katrina New Orleans for looting, and differential treatment by race associated therewith.
  • Should Trial Lawyers Make Terror Policy? [T]here is a healthy and extensive debate about the appropriate relationship between and scope of the powers of the three branches of government in addressing terrorism. Perhaps surprisingly, however, there has been little discussion of the role of unelected trial lawyers, and how the civil justice system and the judicial branch's friendliness to regulation through litigation gives attorneys a financial incentive to use state and federal courts to undo sensitive decisions of the elected branches of government. Worse still is that the trial bar has lobbied for such an expanded role, and Congress has aided and abetted its goals.