41 Vand. L. Rev. 741 (1988)
Law: From a Profession to a Business, The

handle is hein.journals/vanlr41 and id is 755 raw text is: The Law: From a Profession to a
Business
Norman Bowie*
I.  INTRODUCTION  ......................................    741
II. THE DEFINITION OF A PROFESSION .....................     743
III. THE FUNCTION OF A BUSINESS ........................      745
IV. RECALLING THE ALTRUISTIC FUNCTION OF LAW ..........       748
V. A CRITIQUE OF THE ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF LAW ........       755
VI.  CONCLUSION  ........................................     758
I. INTRODUCTION
The public believes that the practice of law has become a business.
They also believe that lawyers are in the profession for the money and
that everything a law firm does is motivated by greed-well not every-
thing, in L.A. Law lawyers are motivated by greed and lust. Allegedly,
lawyers overcharge, create work, and delay in order to make more
money. In return lawyers produce nothing useful; they do not make
cars, steel, or heavy machinery. They are perceived by many as social
parasites who make a handsome living off the productive labor of
others. Economists note that the United States' workforce has a higher
percentage of lawyers than that of Japan.' Economists argue that it
would be better for American business if more of our best and brightest
would be engineers rather than lawyers.' Arguably, lawyers merely re-
distribute income. Because the best lawyers work for powerful corpora-
tions where the money is, the legal profession as a whole shifts money
from the poor to the rich.' The public perceives lawyers as being worse
than business people because in addition to being motivated by
greed-as business people are-lawyers produce nothing useful.
The public's perception is easily dismissed as being uninformed.
* Director, Center for the Study of Values, University of Delaware; author, BusiNixss ETHICS
(1982).
1. See R. REICH, THE NEXT AMERICAN FRONTIER 159 (1983).
2. Id.
3. One corporate attorney argues that the public's perceptions are too simplified. For in-
stance, corporate attorneys sometimes prevent corporations from taking actions they want to
take-actions that would benefit the corporation at the expense of the poor.

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