Divorce Lawyers at Work: Varieties of Professionalism in Practice

By Lynn Mather; Craig A. McEwen et al. | Go to book overview

7
SERVING CLIENTS WHILE
PROTECTING THE BOTTOM LINE

I've become really tough, and it's hard for me because I'm not a good business person, I guess. And I have called one guy who's a businessman, and I said, “Look, I can't keep carrying you. You have to pay your bill or else I'm going to have to withdraw.” I felt horrible about doing it. I'm not good at it.

—a New Hampshire sole practitioner

The ideology of legal professionalism includes a commitment to altruism. The realities of practice, however, place limits on selflessness. Scholars of the professions see as a core problem of professional practice “the tension between the provision of affordable and conscientious service to others, and the economic interest of those who provide it” (Freidson 1994: 199). The American Bar Association's Commission on Professionalism placed the tension between service and self-interest at the center of its inquiry, questioning whether the profession has lived up to its public service commitment (American Bar Association 1986: 10). The formal rules of professional responsibility highlight this conflict without resolving

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