The Moral Compass of the American Lawyer

Truth, Justice, Power, and Greed

Publisher: Ballantine Books
These are perilous times for Americans who need access to the legal system. Too many lawyers blatantly abuse power and trust, engage in reckless ethical misconduct, grossly unjust billing practices, and dishonesty disguised as client protection. All this has undermined the credibility of lawyers and the authority of the legal system. In the court of public opinion, many lawyers these days are guiltier than the criminals or giant corporations they defend.

Is the public right? In this eye-opening, incisive book, Richard Zitrin and Carol Langford, two practicing lawyers and distinguished law professors, shine a penetrating light on the question everyone is asking: Why do lawyers behave the way they do? All across the country, lawyers view certain behavior as "ethical" while average citizens judge that same conduct "immoral." Now, with expert analysis of actual cases ranging from murder to class action suits, Zitrin and Langford investigate lawyers' behavior and its impact on our legal system. The result is a stunningly clear-eyed exploration of law as it is practiced in America today--and a cogent, groundbreaking program for legal reform.


"A fascinating book for lawyers, law students, and anyone who is or might be a client . . . Zitrin and Langford use a series of cautionary tales for lawyers to engage the reader in the most important ethical dilemmas that lawyers face."
   Howard Lichtenstein Distinguished Professor of Legal Ethics
   Hofstra University Law School
   Author of Understanding Lawyers' Ethics

"As engrossing as good fiction . . . This book is important reading for anyone who cares about the law."