Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pue on Cowboy Jurists & the Making of Legal Professionalism

Cowboy Jurists & the Making of Legal Professionalism is a paper by Wesley Pue, University of British Columbia Faculty of Law. A different version of the paper appeared in W. Wesley Pue and David Sugarman, eds., Lawyers and Vampires: Cultural Histories of Legal Professions (2003). Here's the abstract:

This paper identifies the origins of modern Canadian legal professionalism in the prairie west during the early twentieth century, arguing for the importance of human agency and emphasizing contingency where others assert trans-historical processes. Lawyers combined agendas which were explicitly moral and reforming with a profound restructuring of their profession. Their efforts to reform the curriculum of formal legal education was part of a cultural project, but so too was their desire to attain self-regulation, monopoly, professional independence, and plenary disciplinary powers.

The substantive findings documented here direct our attention to questions of cultural agency and structural revolution that are too easily overlooked. They suggest connections between market control, political lawyering, culture, liberalism and professionalism that have yet to be adequately explored.

This paper might be read along side Eli Wald's new article, The Other Legal Profession and the Orthodox View of the Bar: The Rise of Colorado's Elite Law Firms, which revisits the rise of American law firms from the perspective of the western United States.