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Occupation Code 541110: Lawyers, Self-Regulation, and the Idea of a Profession, 74 Fordham Law Review 1079 (2005)


In Arizona, lawyers earn on average $45.70 an hour. This is comfortably above poverty wages, but it puts lawyers in sixteenth place on a list of the top twenty highest paying occupations in Arizona. Lawyers are ahead of pharmacists and optometrists, but behind chiropractors, podiatrists and, of course, all matter of medical doctors. Being a lawyer is not what it used to be. The profession is more competitive, the services performed for clients are more commoditized, and the work involved is less rewarding. This Article first makes the simple point that demographic factors, including, but not limited to, the decline in lawyers' wages relative to other professions, the growth in the percentage of lawyers in the population since 1970, and the concomitant increase in competition among lawyers have conspired to bring about a marked decline in the social status of lawyers and in the self-esteem of lawyers. These factors, in turn, provide at least a partial explanation for the apparent and much lamented decline in civility and general "professionalism" among lawyers. Consistent with this observation, we have seen the adoption of several aspirational "civility codes" which suggest that the "legal profession deems itself to be in crisis.

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