edited by Leslie C. Levin and Lynn Mather. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. 392pp. Cloth $99.00. ISBN: 9780226475158. Paper $39.00. ISBN: 9780226475165.

Reviewed by Mark C. Miller, Department of Political Science, Clark University.


This very interesting edited volume is one of the first books to examine lawyers’ ethical decision making in a variety of practice settings and through empirical research. One of the many strengths of this collection is the breadth of types of legal subfields examined, with the authors arguing that lawyers’ ethical behavior and norms vary greatly by context. I know of very few collections that examine so many different types of lawyer practice. It should be of interest to many socio-legal scholars as well as students of the legal profession. Leslie Levin is a professor of law at the University of Connecticut School of Law, and Lynn Mather is a professor of law and political science at the University at Buffalo Law School.

The volume begins with three valuable overview chapters. The first chapter by Mather and Levin argues that lawyer behavior and expectations vary by the types of clients (see Heinz and Laumann 1982 for their discussion of the two hemispheres of the legal profession and the Heinz et al. 2005 update to that work), legal specialization, lawyers’ professional ideologies, and their communities of practice (see Mather, McEwen, and Maiman 2001). Mather and Levin state the general thesis for the volume in this way, “While there are continuities across fields, we also find that each practice area has its own particular norms and challenges, shaped not only by substantive, procedural, and ethical legal rules, but also by clients, practice organizations, economics, and culture.” (p. 3). The second chapter by David Wilkins examines six trends in the legal profession that are bringing about changes in the context of legal practice: mobility, technology, unbundling and repackaging of legal services, new organizational forms, the institutionalization of pro bono work, and globalization. Elizabeth Chambliss’s chapter then looks at differences between senior lawyers and their junior colleagues when confronted with ethical decisions. These are very nice introductory chapters.

The remainder of the book then focuses on specific areas of lawyer practice. In chapter 4, Mather and McEwen explore why among all lawyers divorce lawyers have the highest level of ethical complaints from their clients. Chapter 5 by Leslie Levin discusses the problems immigration lawyers face when their clients lie to them. Stephen Daniels and Joanne Martin in chapter 6 examine ethical issues facing plaintiffs’ lawyers who work on a contingency fee basis. They note the problems that occur when professionalism and economic self-interest collide. In chapter 7, Herbert Kritzer looks at insurance defense lawyers and their ethical dilemmas when they are hired by insurance companies to defend the insured. Do the clients deserve their highest loyalty or is their [*254] greatest loyalty to the insurance companies who hired them?

The next set of chapters looks at decision making among lawyers who represent corporate interests. Chapter 8 by Kimberly Kirkland discusses decision making among corporate litigators in large law firms, especially during the discovery process. John Flood in chapter 9 focuses on transnational and international transactions negotiated by lawyers employed by some of the largest law firms in the world. These mega-deals require careful cultural as well as ethical considerations. Chapter 10 by Sung Hue Kim examines in-house corporate lawyers, while Patrick Schmidt focuses on securities lawyers. In the last chapter in this section, John Conley and Lynn Mather look at the professional lives of patent lawyers.

Chapters 13 and 14 examine the worlds of criminal lawyer, with Ellen Yaroshefsky and Bruce Green dealing with prosecutors and Nicole Martorano Van Cleve taking on criminal defense lawyers. In chapter 15, Corey Shdaimah explores ethical problems facing legal services lawyers, while chapter 16 by Scott Cummings discusses so-called public interest lawyers, although it is not completely clear how this chapter engages the growing cause lawyer literature (see e.g. Sarat and Scheingold 2004).

All of these chapters are well researched and well written, and they are almost all of uniformly high quality. This is rare for many edited volumes. I teach an undergraduate senior seminar on lawyers and American politics, where the students read a book per week. On the somewhat rare occasion when I assign an edited volume in that class, the students sometimes find the collection to be repetitive when read together as one work. This volume does not suffer from that problem because each chapter has a specific area of practice that is the main focus of the empirical work. Thus, the strength of this collection is the breadth of the types of lawyering that the book as a whole examines. I would have liked a somewhat longer conclusion that would have drawn together some of the common themes in the various chapters to match the quality of the introductory chapters. But the volume as a whole provides important insights into many different areas of legal practice. As the editors conclude in the book’s epilogue, “Lawyers do not practice entirely as independent agents. Their conduct is shaped by the social setting of practice – that is, the workplace – and, more specifically, by the formal and informal controls at work” (p.365). This volume will become a very important contribution to the literature in this field of study.


Heinz, John and Edward Laumann. 1982. Chicago Lawyers: The Social Structure of the Bar. New York and Chicago: Russell Sage Foundation and American Bar Foundation.

Heinz, John P., Robert L. Nelson, Rebecca L. Sandefur, and Edward O. Laumann. 2005. Urban Lawyers: The New Social Structure of the Bar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mather, Lynn, Craig A. McEwen, and Richard J. Maiman. 2001. Divorce Lawyers at Work: Variety of [*255] Professionalism in Practice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sarat, Austin, and Stuart Scheingold. 2004. Something to Believe in: Politics, Profesionalism, and Cause Lawyering. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Copyright by the Author, Mark C. Miller