Jethro K. Lieberman

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Crisis at the Bar: Lawyers' Unethical Ethics and What to Do about It

W. W. Norton, 1978, 247pp.

Lawyers were the preeminent players in the moral and political drama that was Watergate. In its wake, stung by damning criticism, courts and bar associations demanded reforms in law schools and elsewhere to insure that lawyers would abide by their professional obligations. The trouble was, though, that the code of ethics itself was rotten, if not to the core then certainly deep below many parts of its capacious surface. This book examines the state of legal ethics in the late 1970s and argues the need for considerable change. (A note to the eagle-eyed: The subtitle shown above is correct, even though it does not correspond to the subtitle you see to the left on the picture of the jacket. The publisher goofed! The correct subtitle appears on the book's title page.)

Awards and Notices
Listed by The New York Times Book Review on both its summer reading and Christmas book lists, 1978.

From the reviewers

"According to lawyer-author Jethro Lieberman, 'Probably no profession on earth, not excluding the ministry, has today as full and public a code of ethics as the lawyers.' Code of ethics! As you read this book, a masterful vivisection of that code . . . you are repeatedly astonished that the word 'ethics' should be associated with it. . . . Jethro Lieberman is peculiarly qualified to present this felicitously written indictment."
Philip M. Stern, The New York Times Book Review

"Every lawyer should read this book; it would prove helpful to general readers too. . . . Lieberman takes the cudgels to the legal profession and leaves it rather bloody."
Publishers Weekly

"A timely and provocative examination of the Bar's regulation of lawyers' conduct and of what lawyers see as the ethical duties and dilemmas they face . . . Lieberman by and large rises above the shrill moralism and anecdotal muckraking of some recent popular works on lawyers. He presents a thoughtful highly critical analysis of the code of professional responsibility. . . . The chapters on law clinics and lawyers' advertising provide the best treatment of these subjects I have read to date."
Library Journal

Selected Works

A retort to friends who thought it was time to thin out the bookshelves.
A critique of hypotheticals as a tool for judging the thought of others.
For students studying constitutional law: what it's about, how to learn it, in language easy to grasp.
Political Theory, Government
Resuscitates liberalism as a practical political doctrine.
On writing clear, readable, and persuasive prose. 3d edition published January 2016
An article on the sins of scholarly writing — and a video to boot.
Constitutional Law
The meaning of the Constitution, and how it has changed over time, on the eve of its bicentennial.
Law and Society
The first book to seek the underlying causes for, and consequences of, America’s growing urge to sue.
A searching look at the moral disarray of the post-Watergate lawyers' code of ethics.
Terrorists take over the United Nations and commit a series of atrocities to free their imprisoned soldiers. An Israeli agent to the rescue. Sounds familiar, but this appeared in 1978, before some of the things imagined had ever played out.
Edited anthologies.
Articles in the popular press, pamphlets, and more.