Modern American culture provides an inconsistent vision of the role of lawyers
in dispute resolution. Lawyers are alternately portrayed as greedy, corrupt people
without morals or as necessary and competent allies in protecting individuals against
larger and better-funded opponents. In reality, while lawyers have the definite
capability to change the outcome of a dispute in a negative way, they ultimately have a
positive effect by allowing citizens access to the legal system. By its very nature, the
legal system is confusing, puts the inexperienced at a disadvantage, and can be difficult
to access for claimants with little authority. Lawyers provide a way to overcome these
obstacles. They are beneficial because they effectively use their experience and
education to help their clients, facilitate their client’s freedom in trial, aid in the
formation of cases, and add authority and weight to a claim.
The experience and education lawyers have is invaluable in providing legal
access for their clients. Their knowledge and skill allow lawyers to effectively interpret
the legal system and therefore help their clients navigate it. The American legal system,
in the two hundred years it has been in existence, has become extremely complex and
confusing to the uninitiated. The trial process alone can become a Byzantine series of
motions, objections, briefs, and rulings. Despite the fact that defendants are allowed to
represent themselves, the very structure of the system is so complicated that being or
employing a professional lawyer is all but necessary. Legal documents, too, are so
confusing that even non-trial disputes can be impossible for a layman to handle. A
lawyer’s training i...
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...nore, Peter d’Errico, Ethan Katsh, Ronald M.
Pipkin, Janet Rifkin (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002) 76-83.
Langum, David J. “William M. Kunstler: The Most Hated Lawyer in America,
Introduction to Legal Studies: A Reader, ed. Thomas Hilbink, 2005, 83-97.
Haltom, William. Michael McCann, “Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the
Litigation Crisis,” Introduction to Legal Studies: A Reader, ed. Thomas Hilbink,
Menkel-Meadow, Carrie. “The Transformation of Legal Disputes by Lawyers: What the
Dispute Paradigm Does and Does Not Tell Us,” Before the Law: An
Introduction to the Legal Process. Ed. Stephen Arons, John J Bonsignore, Peter
d’Errico, Ethan Katsh, Ronald M. Pipkin, Janet Rifkin (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 2002) 478-480
Toobin, Jeffrey. “Killer Instinct,” Introduction to Legal Studies: A Reader, ed. Thomas
Hilbink, 2005, 251-260.
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