Professionalism in the postmodern age: It's death, attempts at resuscitation, and alternative sources of virtue

There is a new emphasis on professionalism within legal education and the organized bar. Lawyers are being called on to go beyond the incentives of the market and beyond the requirements of the professional rules - to seek justice, to be more honest and tolerant, to be less adversarial and selfish, and to give more of their time and resources to the poor. The moral basis for this call to services is lawyers' status as professionals. This focus on professionalism comes at a time when the reputation of the legal profession has fallen to new depths. This article examines whether in this postmodern world the traditional concepts of professionalism can be resuscitated or whether a new moral ground is needed. The traditional professional ideals were built on a deeply rooted moral foundation that was widely shared among the bar. In the 1960s and 70s, however, the elitist foundations of professionalism began to crumble. Increased diversity in the profession and postmodern thoughts that there was no moral truth undercut the possibility of a pervasive professional ethic. The result of these postmodern teachings have left each lawyer to create his or her own meaning of “professionalism.” The modern concept of professionalism is both too weak and too dangerous to yield the responsible exercise of professional power. Instead, the key to renewed virtue in lawyers is to look within the diversity of the profession for moral insight. As the traditional idea of professionalism has failed, lawyers now need to look to their own personal traditions to define virtue. Morality is likely to take hold and to affect one's life when it is drawn not from the ethical considerations of the profession, but from the deepest source of values of that person.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,374
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

11 ( #146,511 of 1,140,006 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #157,514 of 1,140,006 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.