A Swallow Press Book

The Lawyer Myth
A Defense of the American Legal Profession

By Rennard Strickland and Frank T. Read

“An enlightening, convincing refutation of the myriad myths and misconceptions about lawyers and the legal system … highly readable and well–reasoned.”

The Oklahoma Observer

“Let's hear it for lawyers! No? Well, after reading this book, there may be more people willing to cheer. Strickland and Read were fed up with lawyers being blamed for the ills of society and the butt of jokes. In clear language, they explain just what lawyers do and why we need them. Anyone who has ever been caught in a legal tangle has reason to be grateful for a caring attorney. The authors also cover some of the myths about lawyers such as the woman who got a fortune because McDonald's made the coffee too hot and others.”

Book News, Inc.

“Anyone thinking of going to law school must read this compelling book by two legal educators who have trained generations of lawyers. Professors Strickland and Read go behind the sensational cases that dominate headlines to explain why the myths about lawyers underestimate their important role in sustaining the rule of law.”

Anne Brandt, Associate Director for Education and Prelaw Programs, Law School Admission Council

“This is a splendid book which really needed to be written. Having endured the slings and arrows launched at my profession for lo these many years, I am delighted that these authors offer herein a finely crafted, very insightful, and solidly reasoned defense of lawyers and the critical role lawyers play in our society. It is truly a must read for anyone who cares about the future of our democracy.”

Andrew M. Coats, Past President, American College of Trial Lawyers, Dean, University of Oklahoma College of Law

“When you mentioned to family or friends that you were considering becoming a lawyer, you probably faced skepticism, if not serious criticism… You are undoubtedly asking yourself if three or four years of a rigorous and costly legal education is really worth the candle. For you … we add these final comments. We hope that they will reassure you, as well as your friends and family, that it is possible, as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. proclaimed, ‘to live greatly in the law.’”
— from The Lawyer Myth

Lawyers and the legal profession have become scapegoats for many of the problems of our age. In The Lawyer Myth: A Defense of the American Legal Profession, Rennard Strickland and Frank T. Read look behind current antilawyer media images to explore the historical role of lawyers as a balancing force in times of social, economic, and political change. One source of this disjunction of perception and reality, they find, is that American society has lost touch with the need for the lawyer’s skill and has come to blame unrelated social problems on the legal profession. This highly personal and impassioned book is their defense of lawyers and the rule of law in the United States.

The Lawyer Myth confronts the hypocrisy of critics from both the right and the left who attempt to exploit popular misperceptions about lawyers and judges to further their own social and political agendas. By revealing the facts and reasoning behind the decisions in such cases as the infamous McDonald’s coffee spill, the authors provide a clear explanation of the operation of the law while addressing misconceptions about the number of lawsuits, runaway jury verdicts, and legal “technicalities” that turn criminals out on the street.

Acknowledging that no system is perfect, the authors propose a slate of reforms for the bar, the judiciary, and law schools that will enable today’s lawyers—and tomorrow’s—to live up to the noble potential of their profession. Whether one thinks of lawyers as keepers of the springs of democracy, foot soldiers of the Constitution, architects and carpenters of commerce, umpires and field levelers, healers of the body politic, or simply bridge builders, The Lawyer Myth reminds us that lawyers are essential to American democracy.

Rennard Strickland is the Philip H. Knight Professor of Law and dean emeritus at the University of Oregon School of Law and founding director of the University of Oklahoma Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy.

Frank T. Read is a former president and dean of South Texas College of Law where he is currently a professor of law.

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Retail price: $18.95, S.
Release date: Feb. 2008
168 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Retail price: $32.95, S.
Release date: Feb. 2008
168 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Release date: Feb. 2008
≅ 168 pages

Additional Praise for The Lawyer Myth

“Finally, a clear, witty, and welcome corrective to distorted views about lawyers and the legal system. Read and Strickland show how lawyers solve problems, resolve disputes, protect individual rights, and support the rule of law that underlies both our successful economy and the institutions of our free and democratic society.”

Joseph William Singer

“Two longtime law professors and former law school deans are ‘mad as hell’ about the destructive myths and misconceptions about lawyers and the legal system perpetuated by uninformed and unfair media treatment, political comment, and public misunderstanding. They have assembled, in highly readable form, the empirical data, the historical perspective, and an excellent description of legal training and practice that should set the stage for a more thoughtful and rational discussion of what Americans really believe about the rule of law.”

Christine M. Durham, Chief Justice, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice, Utah Supreme Court