It's a grassroots vs. elites issue (and a chicken-or-the-egg issue. does life imitate art or art life? does the court enact social change or respond to it?)... look at the civil rights movement. yes there were favorable and important and even radical court decisions, but only after years of extreme pressure from activists and ordinary folks who refused to take it any more. the court does exist in an evolving cultural context, and is as affected by it as it is effective to it, if not more so. i'm not sure how this responds to your last comment about wanting the law to be precise or have definite solutions. I'm not sure what that means. It sounds more to me to appeal to people who want to believe that the grassroots humbly follows the elites, rather than the grassroots dragging the elites kicking and screaming to progress.
I wouldn't call lawyers "social engineers" so much as those charged with helping to codify into law the beliefs and opinions of the citizenry. It is the citizen body that decided, after more women began working, that it is unacceptable to behave in particular ways toward women in the workplace. Lawyers didn't make this determination. They merely assisted in codifying into law this judgement made by the public. It is our elected representatives at the local, state, and federal level who craft law. Lawyers assist in their capacity as advisors to these representatives and as legal practitioners who bring cases before the courts and in so doing help courts more finely define the laws the legislature has passed.I think the moniker "social engineers" gives lawyers way too much credit. We, the citizenry, are our own social engineers. Lawyers just help us to articulate precisely what we want. That's all.
We, the citizenry, are our own social engineers.