1101 Lawyers in the 21st Century Society I

WG Comparative Studies of Legal Professions

Room: B2.03


This session presents some of the 60 chapters of a forthcoming global comparison of lawyers, ‘Lawyers in 21 century society’, which is a 30 years follow up on Abel & Lewis' ‘Lawyers in Society’. Both projects examine lawyers comparatively, their histories and status and offer different approaches to understand lawyers. Since the original books globalisation and neoliberal structures have affected lawyers' work, organisation, education and demography. At one level, legal expertise and legal services become global, at another level transnational legal institutions and law develop and require new forms of legal expertise, while at a national level populations still need legal services. This session take such developments into consideration when examining how lawyers and access to justice are affected by globalization and neoliberal structures in different nation-states.   

Chair: Ole Hammerslev | University of Southern Denmark  


Jan Kober | Charles University in Prague; Institute of State and Law of the Czech Academy of Sciences  
The Transformation of Czech Legal Professions between Two Economic Systems and the Privatisation of Bailiffs





The paper researches the processes, actors and dynamics of reforms of legal professions in the Czech Republic, a Central European country and former member of the group of socialist countries, during the time of the transformation of the country between two economic systems, socialism and capitalism. Following the overview of the reform of legal professions in the Czech Republic, the second part of the paper focuses on the lesser-known story of privatisation of bailiffs. Unlike the privatisation of other legal professions (advocates, notaries) in the early 1990s the bailiff profession is a remarkable example of the additional “privatisation” of certain state function through the creation of the new bailiff profession alongside of the “old” court bailiff profession in 2001. During more than fifteen years of its existence, the new profession has been widely criticised by many citizens, legal academics and human rights organisations.

Isabel Boni-Le Goff | University of Lausanne  

Eléonore Lépinard | University of Lausanne  

Nicky Le Feuvre | University of Lausanne  

Lawyers in Switzerland. The End of Prosperity in the Age of Globalization?




Despite the early fears expressed by some researchers, data on the contemporary Swiss legal profession still paint at first sight an optimistic and prosperous picture. The number of lawyers affiliated to the different Swiss bars has increased significantly. This steady growth is linked to what seems to be an everlasting economic prosperity enabling lawyers to have high levels of revenue.
However, while Swiss lawyers’ average financial situation remains comfortable, this does not mean that things have remained the same, as far as the legal rules, the practice settings, the working standards and the professional culture are concerned. On the contrary, the Swiss legal practice is in many ways quite different from what it was thirty years ago.
The contemporary situation of the Swiss legal profession and its ongoing transformations are the reflection of wider economic and geopolitical trends affecting the country, making it more difficult to preserve its status of financial haven. The chapter analyzes the dynamic demography of the Swiss legal profession over the last 30 years and underlines some of the processes that have combined to fuel this growth. This period of steady growth is also one of deep changes in the structure of Swiss capitalism with important consequences on the nature and the division of legal labor and on the organization and the polarization of practice settings.

Ulrike Schultz | FernUniversität in Hagen  

The Legal Profession in Germany – Resistance and Reactions to Demands of Modernization




Ole Hammerslev | University of Southern Denmark  

Lawyers in Denmark




The Danish legal profession have been characterised as the ‘midwife’ of the state. In its golden years in the 19th century the legal profession dominated all parts of the Danish state and was playing a key role in the development of the state and the market. However with the development of the welfare state after WWII, other and newer professions appeared and replaced to a certain extend the legal profession. With the growing welfare state, it also became the state’s responsibility to provide help to compensate for the failures of the state through e.g. appeal committees, consumer councils, ombudsmen, housing complaints commission etc. To understand the development of lawyers in Denmark it is necessary to understand, that the welfare state has been seen as important in assisting citizens in solving their legal issues in cases where public authorities were part. However, since the 1980s the welfare state has been put under pressure by neo-liberal trends with its focus on financial control, efficiency demands, and market solutions with new private actors and public-private collaborations. This has not only impacted access to legal aid but also made it more difficult for the public to get help from the welfare state to solve their problems. The neo-liberal agenda transformed also the field of lawyers. In Denmark various governments have liberalised the lawyers’ market and continuously examined if regulatory changes could increase competition and lower the prices for legal services. The Bar Association and lawyers have most often responded via social closure legitimised by the profession’s role in guaranteeing the rule of law with independence and high quality services. Since the 1980s small law offices were transformed into law firms on an increasing competitive market. This chapter examines the changes and continuities of lawyers in Denmark.


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