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6 Am. J.L. & Med. 173 (1980-1981)
Physicians and Lawyers: Science, Art, and Conflict

handle is hein.journals/amlmed6 and id is 193 raw text is: Physicians and Lawyers: Science, Art,
and Conflict
Joan M. Gibson, Ph.D.*
Robert L. Schwartz, J.D.**
The relations between physicians and lawyers have deteriorated rapidly
over the past several decades, most particularly since the early 70s when the
perception that a medical malpractice crisis existed in America became
widespread. Some believe that the factors dividing the two professions
are linked (1) to professional jealousy, (2) to sometimes conflicting economic
interests, or (3) to difficulties in communication, since both professions use
many of the same words, or terms of art, but with different intended
While the authors agree that these factors may have aggravated the
problem, they believe that the conflict's real roots are in the very different
ways in which physicians and lawyers are trained and in the different
epistemologies that each profession has accepted, as a result of which each
reasons and solves problems in a manner that not only diverges from but
sometimes contradicts the other's. The authors conclude that only as the
varying epistemologies begin to converge can physicians and lawyers begin
to approach problems in more similar ways, and to discover the underlying
compatibility of many of their interests and goals.
Over the past several decades, relations between physicians and lawyers
have undergone considerable change. Once based on mutual respect and
even trust, the two professions' attitudes towards one another have deteri-
orated into mutual hostility and mistrust. With the advent in the early
1970s of what was widely perceived to be a medical malpractice insurance
crisis, the divisions between them deepened, and have, if anything, grown
more formidable since then.
In recent years, there has been a slight shift in attitude, as a dialogue
has begun-at universities and through a few professional organizations'-
* Associate Professor of Philosophy and Bioethics, University of Albuquerque, Albu-
querque, New Mexico.
** Associate Professor of Law, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
1 See Wecht, The Interfaces of Law and Medicine (American Society of Law and

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