Divorce Lawyers at Work: Varieties of Professionalism in Practice

By Lynn Mather; Craig A. McEwen et al. | Go to book overview
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9
FROM PROFESSIONALISM TO
COLLEGIAL CONTROL

We began this book by asking how lawyers think about and make the decisions that constitute their daily practices. One vision of these decisions finds their roots in the organized profession—its educational processes, formal organizations, and rules of conduct. Another explanation sees these decisions as shaped by the economic forces acting on lawyers, with firm profits or client pockets controlling the choices that attorneys make in their work. Yet another perspective underlines the role of lawyers' individual values and identities in making day-to-day decisions. Each of these views addresses what we see to be the core issue in the debate about legal professionalism—namely, the question of who or what forces control or influence the discretionary work decisions at the heart of law practice. Our contribution to this debate has been to focus closely on that question through an empirical study of divorce lawyers at work. It has also been to emphasize the central importance of collegial control in answering that question and to identify multiple “communities of practice” as the key agents of collegial control. In this study, we have tried to identify the standards that develop in these varied communities, how they are created, how widely they are shared, how—if at all—they are connected to the formal codes and organization of the bar, and how effective they are as agents of collegial control.

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