Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not a glorious profession, because it is not a glorious class

Forgive the possible violation of anticipatory nepotism, but the Volokh Conspiracy's Kenneth Anderson has interesting post in which he links to a long essay titled "A New Class of Lawyers: The Therapeutic as Rights Talk." There's much in there that relates back to my project of trying to answer definitively whether libertarians should go to law school.

1)Anderson's observations about how the problem with law is not the deficit of professionalism, but rather an excess in professionalism that overwhelms all else, ring true to my experiences. Anderson's description of the "good" large law firm lawyer as a therapeutic authoritarian also sounds much like the ideal to which my law school classmates and I were taught to aspire.

I chuckled particularly when I read his description of "good" large firm lawyers at p. 1076 as the advance guards of the EEOC; when I tried to convince law firms that I was interested in employment discrimination during OCI, several firms asked me how I as a woman felt about defending employers in harassment cases. I sensed an honest answer -- "I'm president of my law school's Fed Soc, idiot; please see line 3 of my resume" --- would have been impolitic. So I mouthed bromides I didn't really believe about the important work that corporate firms do to bring about "compliance" with laws I'm not convinced are just.

What's relevant to other libertarians here is that I imagine many of them will respond the way I did to this sort of rhetoric. Most of us are ornery Randian individualists deep down. We don't particularly like guilds, and sweeping conceptions of the demands of professional life kind of creep us out.

2)Not related to my larger blogging project, but I'm struck by how much closer my understanding of social deviance (p. 1082-3) is to Herbert Morris's than to most normal right-wingers. I still think there are huge Hayekian knowledge problems with trying to cure deviance via state-imposed solutions, many more than nearly anyone on the left acknowledges. After all, even if one accepts the state as therapist analogy, a good therapist first does no harm. But I recognize that this moral intuition puts me at oods with most other conservatives and libertarians. I'll have to think more about that.

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