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For the 2010 Hamlyn Lectures, Alan Paterson explores different facets of three key institutions in a democracy: lawyers, access to justice and the judiciary. In the case of lawyers he asks whether professionalism is now in terminal decline. To examine access to justice, he discusses past and present crises in legal aid and potential endgames and in relation to judges he examines possible mechanisms for enhancing judicial accountability. In demonstrating that the benign paternalism of lawyers in determining the public good with respect to such issues is no longer unchallenged, he argues that the future roles of lawyers, access to justice and the judiciary will only emerge from dialogues with other stakeholders claiming to speak for the public interest.