Monday, September 12, 2016

'No Shots, No School, No Kidding': The Legal Profession Needs a Vaccine to Ensure Professionalism

'No Shots, No School, No Kidding': The Legal Profession Needs a Vaccine to Ensure Professionalism by Debra Moss Curtis.


When we consider what constitutes a public health crisis in the United States, we are usually restricting ourselves to talking about the medical field. However, my article, “No Shots, No School, No Kidding: The Legal Profession needs a Vaccine to Ensure Professionalism” argues that that the legal profession is experiencing a public health crisis of its own, and that radical steps must be taken to combat the growing cancer on the profession.

In many states across the country, the month of August is filled with a severe no-nonsense message to parents of children enrolled or hoping to enroll in public school: “no shots, no school, no kidding.” The public health crisis that led to the requirement of mandatory vaccinations for school age children was so severe as to require this blanket mandate. Much like the spread of measles or mumps, the legal profession is experiencing its own public health crisis — a disease running through it that threatens to destroy it. That disease — a rampant lack of professionalism by attorneys, is tainting our justice system and harming the public in a widespread manner.

In the early days of disease epidemics, the strategy for containment was quarantine and attempting to cure, which ultimately led to the only true fix, vaccinations. Similarly, the legal system has responded to its own public health crisis by trying to cut off attorneys from the general population and treat them, rather than working properly to prevent problems. This article argues that the legal profession has focused its efforts too much on trying to “cure” the professionalism problem through discipline, sanctions, and education of lawyers that have already shown signs of the disease instead of extensively using preventative education for newly forming lawyers to help prevent it.

Part II of this work discusses the professionalism crisis. Part III discusses ways that the legal academy can and should be tackling this disease, with proposals to more effectively prevent it through a “vaccination” given while new lawyers are at their most formative stages. Part IV discusses obstacles to these plans, and Part V draws some conclusions from this analysis.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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