Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



In the majority of contemporary democratic societies, the role of the lawyer is important, in some cases (such as the United States) predominant. This is so partly because a democratic constitution and legal order--for all the differences between the various types of democracy--are based on a delicate and precarious balance of functions and powers, which makes the role of the lawyer, as a trained balancer, important. But it is also connected with the fact that in the formative era of modern democracies, especially throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the predominant economic philosophy of democracy was that of laissez faire, with private enterprise as the chief instrument and promoter of economic activity and development. The function of the State remained restricted to defense, foreign affairs, and certain limited administrative and police activities, while the main stream of economic and social life proceeded through private channels. Hence the predominant training and function of the lawyer was in the field of private law, as counsel and advocate, as judge litigating between private parties, and as legal scholar analyzing the legal order and concepts of this type of society.