The Zeal Shortage

Professional zeal, according to a leading treatise, “is found in the United States in a form that, for vigor, has no rival anywhere.” Zeal manifests itself as a force in both the performance and the theory of advocacy: Lawyers practice it, and they preach it. As an element of advocacy as lawyers practice it, zeal is hard to measure. As theory—the preached part, an ideal for the practice of law—zeal is more amenable to assessment, through review of a relatively contained written record. Basic source material suggests that as theory, zeal may have hit its peak in “vigor” about a hundred years ago.

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