American Journal of Comparative Law Supplement
Lawyers in the United States work in public service, private counseling, and dispute resolution, but many also work outside of traditional legal practice. The million-member American bar, second largest in the world, grows more diverse by gender, and ethnicity and older on average. All members of this learned profession must qualify by education or examination and by proof of good character and fitness before taking an oath to serve as an attorney. Thence, there are few limitations on the form of legal practice, though many law firms require an associateship before an attorney becomes an owner of the firm. Economic pressure and technological enhancement are changing the profession: some jobs once in firms are now in-house, and some basic tasks are outsourced. Persistent critics of law practice and law schools suggest the profession will shrink. But the evidence suggests that U.S. lawyers will continue to influence large global firms, as they will influence U.S. life, and likely in even greater numbers.
Stephen M. Sheppard, The American Legal Profession in the Twenty-First Century, 62 Am. J. Comp. L. Supp. 241 (2014).