On May 4, 1905, Louis D. Brandeis, then a prominent Boston attorney, gave a famous talk to the Harvard Ethical Society on "the unusual opportunities for usefulness" offered the legal profession in America. He saw that the reputation of the bar had fallen in part because influential corporate lawyers had become subservient to their clients, that they did not consider the public interest when dealing with legislatures and public bodies.
"It is true that at the present time the lawyer does not hold as high a position with the people as he held seventy-five or indeed fifty years ago; but the reason is not lack of opportunity. It is this: Instead of holding a position of independence, between the wealthy and the people, prepared to curb the excesses of either, able lawyers have, to a large extent, allowed themselves to become adjuncts of great corporations and have neglected the obligation to use their powers for the protection of the people. We hear much of the 'corporation lawyer,' and far too little of the 'people's lawyer.' The great opportunity of the American Bar is and will be to stand again as it did in the past, ready to protect also the interests of the people."