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Based on an extensive survey of historical, sociological, and legal sources, American Lawyers traces the development of the legal profession during the past century. The most comprehensive work on the subject in over thirty years, this seminal study offers a disturbing portrait of the character, evolution, and future of law and lawyers in the United States.
Since their emergence in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Abel argues, bar associations have consciously shaped and controlled the development of the profession. American Lawyers have deliberately erected entry barriers designed to restrict the number and raise the social status of lawyers, and have intentionally dampened competition. Abel demonstrates how lawyers sought to increase access to justice while simultaneously stimulating demand for legal services, and how they implemented self-regulation to forestall external control.
Charting the dramatic transformation of the profession over the last two decades, Abel documents the growing number and importance of lawyers employed outside private practice in business and government.