Document Type

Article

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An Overview of the Legal Profession in the United States, How That Profession Recently Has Been Changing, and Its Future Prospects, 26 QLR 737 (2008)

Abstract

This Article is a follow-up to a recent symposium on the future of law practice, the proceedings of which were published in the Quinnipiac Law Review. The symposium was sponsored by the Fellows of the Connecticut Bar Foundation in cooperation with the Connecticut Bar Association. The principal focus of the symposium was the future of the legal profession in Connecticut. This Article focuses on the future of the legal profession nationwide and on recent significant changes that have occurred in the legal profession in some or all states. Many of the recent changes are indicative of trends likely to continue and to result in further important changes in the U.S. legal profession. This Article also considers potential changes lying ahead in the near-term future, and then speculates on some of the possible changes that may occur in the legal profession in the long-term future. In its coverage of recent and prospective changes in the legal profession, the Article also provides a general overview of the current U.S. legal profession.

The term "legal profession" as used in this Article includes not only those individuals licensed to practice law, and their occupational activities, but also the law firms and other organizations of lawyers that provide legal services to clients, the judiciary and other adjudicators, bar associations, and law schools. There are three principal parts in the Article: Part I, Underlying Causes of Recent Changes in the Legal Profession; Part II, Major Sectors of the Legal Profession and Recent Changes in each Sector; and Part III, Possible Future Changes in the U.S. Legal Profession. These parts are followed by a brief conclusion.

Throughout this Article, reference frequently is made to "recent" changes in the legal profession. What is meant by "recent" changes? What period of time is intended by the term "recent"? Recent changes, here, means those changes that have occurred during the past quarter-century or so. Similarly, the reference to near-term change possibilities discussed in Part III means those changes that seem likely to occur in the next quarter-century, and long-term possibilities are those changes that conceivably may occur more than a quarter-century from now.

Date of Authorship for this Version

2008

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