- Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by David S. Clark
Chapter 17: Legal Professions and Law Firms
David S. Clark* 1 INTRODUCTION Comparative lawyers have often used the legal profession as a window to observe important features of different legal systems. This chapter examines the legal professions— especially the private independent professions—in several nations to determine if there remain significant variations in the world.1 This examination reveals that the standard comparative law division between the civil law tradition and the common law tradition still provides important explanatory power. Geographic location and the level of economic development are also important variables. Even in the face of the process of economic and cultural globalization, it remains true that national history and local culture matter. 1.1 One or Many Professions? In Canada and the United States, lawyers tend to view the legal profession as a single entity, a unified bar. In common law countries in general, people believe it is normal for a lawyer to switch positions without special training, perhaps from government work to a corporate counsel’s office, to a law firm, or maybe to the judiciary. However, in civil law jurisdictions young law graduates tend to think of several legal professions, calcified by their own career images. A civil law lawyer, especially in Europe, must be ready at an early age to select her career either in the private sector as an advocate, notary or with a corporation, or in the public sector as a judge, prosecutor or government official or attorney. Subsequent lateral mobility is minimal. If we broaden our inquiry into legal professions to encompass...
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