19 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 155 (2006)
Lessons on Lawyers, Democracy, and Professional Responsibility

handle is hein.journals/geojlege19 and id is 165 raw text is: Lessons on Lawyers, Democracy, and Professional
Responsibility
KENNETH M. RoSEN*
That American universities-and law schools as parts of such universities-
should teach students to understand and support democratic institutions may
seem self-evident and non-controversial. Yet in discussing the role of the
academy, Stanley Fish, the departing Dean of the University of Illinois at
Chicago's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recently stated a rather different
position in the New York Times. Fish proclaimed that [n]o doubt, the practices of
responsible citizenship and moral behavior should be encouraged in our young
adults-but it's not the business of the university to do so . . . .' Fish is wrong.
His views are particularly antithetical to the obligations of the legal academy. It is
not merely enough for law professors to hope that our students become
responsible citizens-we must make teaching them to do so central to our
institutions' missions.
Law schools are professional schools. As such, we must prepare students to
fulfill their professional obligations, and ranking among an American lawyer's
greatest professional responsibilities is the duty to understand and to support
democracy. In part, what characterizes the legal profession is its members'
supposed expertise in the mechanics and principles of our polity. Such
knowledge enables lawyers to make a difference in our polity and brings with it
special responsibility to our democracy. Accordingly, emphasis on this democ-
racy duty in our law schools is essential.
Yet Fish's comments illustrate that this is not an intuitive conclusion for all
individuals. Why might some worry about academic emphasis on a democracy
duty? Certainly there are those who doubt the prudence of democracy,2 thus
rendering the teaching of democratic norms suspect. Dictators throughout the
centuries proffered, at least implicitly by their actions, that autocratic government
was preferable to government based on the will of the people. And, questions
* Assistant Professor, The University of Alabama School of Law. I thank my colleagues at The University of
Alabama School of Law and the University of Alabama Law School Foundation for their generous support of
my research. I am especially grateful for the assistance of Carol Rice Andrews, Bill Brewbaker, Al Brophy, Pam
Bucy, Joseph Colquitt, Alan Durham, Dan Filler, Tony Freyer, George Geis, Bruce Green, Leslie Griffin, Susan
Pace Hamill, Bill Henning, Constantine Katsoris, Bob Kuehn, Ken Randall, Norman Singer, and Norman Stein
on earlier drafts of this paper. I also thank David Averyt for excellent research assistance.
1. Stanley Fish, Why We Built the Ivory Tower, N.Y. TIMES, May 21,2004, at Al. Fish previously taught at the
Duke University School of Law.
2. See GERRY MACKIE, DEMOCRACY DEFENDED 2 (2003).

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