When and why do legal professions seek to influence law

Date & time
1–2pm Thursday 25 May 2017

Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Road, The Australian National University

Professor Leslie Levin, University of Connecticut


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.

Nicole Harman
College seminar
Leslie Levin

In this presentation Professor Levin looks at the circumstances under which legal professions throughout the world, through mandatory and voluntary lawyer associations, attempt to influence the law by either advocating for legal change or opposing it. They do so, for example, in order to benefit the profession as an occupation; to benefit their clients; to bolster (or improve) the legitimacy of the courts; and to advance human rights and other issues affecting civil society. The presentation also explores the circumstances under which it is possible for legal professions to take such action.

Broadly speaking, the ability of lawyers’ associations to act to influence the law depends upon their strength vis a vis the state, the laws governing lawyer organizations, the homogeneity of the organizations, their internal organization, and their support from the international legal community. The willingness of lawyers’ organizations to act depends, in addition, on lawyers’ conceptions of their own interests, their clients’ interests, and their role in civil society. Professor Levin’s work (with her collaborator Professor Lynn Mather) is the first effort to map this terrain.


  • Professor Leslie Levin »

    Professor Leslie Levin is the Joel Barlow Professor of Law at University of Connecticut School of Law. She is an expert on the legal profession, ethical decisionmaking and lawyer discipline, subjects she has examined in numerous publications, notably her co-edited book (with Lynn Mather) Lawyers in Practice: Ethical Decisionmaking in Context. She was the principal investigator on a study funded by the Law School Admissions Council of the predictive value of the bar’s character and fitness inquiry. A member of the UConn Law faculty since 1994, she also has taught at New York University School of Law and the University of Haifa (as a Fulbright Specialist) and served as a visiting research fellow at the University of Queensland.

    Professor Levin has wide experience in practice, clerking for Judge Robert W. Sweet in the Southern District of New York, 14 years as an attorney at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, where she represented media clients, engaged in commercial litigation, secretary to the Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics of the New York City Bar Association, and service on the Connecticut Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession and the Connecticut Joint Task Force on Attorney Trustee Accounts.

    Her recent research has included journal articles on the bar’s character test (2015, with Christine Zozula & Peter Siegelman, The Questionable Character of the Bar’s Character and Fitness Inquiry, 40 Law & Soc. Inquiry 51), on lawyer and non-lawyer competition (2014, The Monopoly Myth and Other Tales About the Superiority of Lawyers, 82 Fordham L. Rev. 2611), on lawyer discipline (2011, Bad Apples, Bad Lawyers or Bad Decisionmaking: Lessons from Psychology and from Lawyers in the Dock, 22 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 1594 (2009), on immigration lawyers (2009, Guardians at the Gates: The Backgrounds, Career Paths and Professional Development of Private U.S. Immigration Lawyers 34 Law & Soc. Inquiry 399), and on sole practitioner and small firms (2009, Pro Bono and Low Bono in the Solo and Small Firm Context in Private Lawyers and the Public Interest: The Evolving Role of Pro Bono in the Legal Profession (Robert Granfield & Lynn Mather, eds).

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