Over 4,000 lawyers lost their positions at major American law firms in 2008 and 2009. In The Vanishing American Lawyer, Professor Thomas Morgan discusses the legal profession and the need for both law students and lawyers to adapt to the needs and expectations of clients in the future. The world needs people who understand institutions that create laws and how to access those institutions' works, but lawyers are no longer part of a profession that is uniquely qualified to advise on a broad range of distinctly legal questions. Clients will need advisors who are more specialized than many lawyers are today and who have more expertise in non-legal issues. Many of today's lawyers do not have a special ability to provide such services. While American lawyers have been hesitant to change the ways they can improve upon meeting client needs, lawyers in other countries, notably Great Britain and Australia, have been better at adapting. Law schools must also recognize the world their students will face and prepare them to operate successfully within it. Professor Morgan warns that lawyers must adapt to new client needs and expectations.
The term "professional" should be applied to individuals who deserve praise for skilled and selfless efforts, but this term may lead to occupational suicide if it becomes a justification for not seeing and adapting to the world ahead.
Thomas D. Morgan has been the Oppenheim Professor of Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law at The George Washington University Law School since 1989. He has served as Dean at the Emory University School of Law and on the faculties of the University of Illinois and Brigham Young University. In 1990, he served as President of the Association of American Law Schools. Professor Morgan has taught and written about the legal profession for over 35 years
and is co-author of the widely-used law school casebook "Problems and Materials on Professional Responsibility" (10th Edition 2008). He served as Reporter for the American Bar Association Commission on Professionalism, as one of three Reporters for the American Law Institute's "Restatement of the Law (Third): The Law
Governing Lawyers," and as one of three Reporters for the American Bar Association's Ethics 2000 Commission to revise the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.