Stephen J. Harper’s The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis, is the latest iteration of the “institutional failure” or “business disaster” story. A number of such books were published around 1990, and have been quite popular since then, for businesses (such as Enron and Tyco) keep failing in such spectacular fashion. The Great Recession that began in December 2007 led to another round of business disaster books, and like their forebears these books make a hard sell for the claim that the disaster was of a titanic nature. And where the business disaster book is found, the legal disaster book is sure to follow.
The Lawyer Bubble has an important point to make: The legal profession suffers from major problems and is in crisis. Unfortunately for its author, these problems do not include a bubble of lawyers, making the catchy title inapt. Additionally, the structure of The Lawyer Bubble, and its quite modest proposals for reform, leave the reader wondering for whom Harper believes he is writing. The Lawyer Bubble requires too much background knowledge to be of much use to undergraduates thinking of entering law school, offers little new for academics worried about their students, and proposes few things that most big law firm managing partners will readily accept. Thus, the approach taken in The Lawyer Bubble, as well as its title, results in hiding rather than highlighting serious structural problems within the legal profession.
Michael S. Ariens, The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis, by Stephen J. Harper (book review), Fed. Law., Oct.-Nov. 2013, at 86.