11 Cap. U. L. Rev. 419 (1981-1982)
Trial Lawyer Incompetence: What the Studies Suggest about the Problem, the Causes and the Cures

handle is hein.journals/capulr11 and id is 433 raw text is: TRIAL LAWYER INCOMPETENCE: WHAT THE STUDIES
SUGGEST ABOUT THE PROBLEM, THE CAUSES
AND THE CURES
CHRISTEN R. BLAIR*
I. INTRODUCTION
The number of unskilful attorneys practicing in county
courts being a great grievance to the country in respect to
their neglect and mismanagement of their clients' causes and
other foul practices..
Although one might. reasonably mistake the above quote as an ex-
cerpt from Chief Justice Burger's latest call for a turn to English legal
education as the cure for the lack of quality in American trial ad-
vocacy, the quote is in fact from the preamble to a 1732 Virginia
legislative act. Similar complaints about the quality of American
lawyers have been expressed throughout our history.2 We are current-
ly in the midst of yet another era of concern over lawyer incompeten-
cy, particularly in the area of trial advocacy, the genesis of which. is
traced to Chief Justice Burger's Sonnett Memorial Lecture at Fordham
Law School on November 26, 1973,' in which the Chief Justice accepted
as a working hypothesis that from one-third to one-half of the
lawyers who appear in the serious cases are not really qualified to
render fully adequate representation.' Just a few weeks after that
Sonnett Lecture, Chief Judge Irving R. Kaufman, of the United States
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, sounded a similar theme in an
address to the New York County Lawyer's Association.' Chief Judge
David C. Bazelon, of the United States Court of Appeals for the
*  Assistant Professor of Law, University of Tulsa College of Law; J.D. 1976,
Ohio State University; L.L.M., 1980, Columbia University.
1. Wolkin, On Improving the Quality of Lawyering, 50 ST. JOHNS L. REV. 523, 523
(1976), quoting A. REED, TRAINING FOR THE PUBLIC PROFESSION OF THE LAW, 97 n.1 (1921)
(preamble to 1752 Virginia legislation).
2. See, e.g., J. HURST, THE GROWTH OF AMERICAN LAW 6, 250, 275, 277, 278 (1950);
M. BLOOMFIELD, AMERICAN LAWYERS IN A CHANGING SOCIETY, 1776-1876, 32-34, 44, 46,
49-52, 84-85, 136-37 (1976), cited in Frankel, Curing Lawyers' Incompetence; Premium Non
Nocere, 10 CREIGHTON L. REV. 613 (1977).
3. Burger, The Special Skills of Advocacy; Are Specialized Training and Certifi-
cation of Advocates Essential to Our System of Justice?, 42 FORDHAM L. REV. 227 (1973).
4. Id. at 234.
5. Kaufman, The Court Needs a Friend In Court, 60 A.B.A.J. 175 (1974).
6. Bazelon, The Defective Assistance of Counsel, 42 U. CIN. L. REV. 1, 2 (1973).

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