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Legal Professional Values & Identities

Leader: Hilary Sommerlad

The sub-group was established by Hilary Sommerlad and Kim Economides in 2006 at the bi-annual meeting of the Working Group on Legal Professions, held that year in Peyresq, France. The sub-group's theme reflected Hilary's research into professional identity formation, and Kim's work on legal ethics.

Since 2006 the sub-group has generated a wide ranging and lively engagement with its themes from speakers in many different jurisdictions.  Its first meeting was held in 2007 at the International Congress of Sociology of Law, Humboldt University, Berlin. There were 2 sessions, and papers were presented by Leny de Groot; Ernestine Kohne; Kim Economides; Lisa Webley; Cynthia Epstein; and Hilary Sommerlad, addressing a range of topics from identity formation and ethics amongst judges and 'cause lawyers' to the role of narrative in law firms in forming ethical behaviour.

At the 2010 Meeting of the Working Group (held in Gif sur Yvette, Paris) there were presentations from Adrian Evans, Lisa Webley, Adelheid Kühne; Hilary Sommerlad; Ruth Djordjevic and Paula Fernando. The papers addressed a range of themes including how ethical behaviour amongst lawyers might be assessed, the casualisation of legal labour markets and the impact on identity, and stress and strain experienced by civil and family lawyers.

In 2011, as a result of his re-location to New Zealand and the responsibilities of his new post, Kim left the group; he is now Dean of Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia: kim.economides@flinders.edu.au

The sub-group had one session at the 2012 Meeting (Haus Schlesien, Bonn), in which the following papers were presented: Hilary Sommerlad: ‘Bleached out’ professionalism versus white macho masculinities, pathologies of black masculinities or black professionalism? How to succeed as a black male solicitor’; Anna Krajewska: ‘Law experts? The role of lawyers providing service to local governments in Poland’; Lisa Webley: ‘Diversity and the Legal Profession: The Importance of the ‘Right’ Academic Background’; Rob Rosen: ‘The Law: Business or One of the Professions?’

At this year’s meeting in Frauenchiemsee July 6-9, 2014, the panel will have two sessions:

1st session

·        Hilary Sommerlad: Pussy Riot: show trials and the New Lawyer

·        Simon Rice: Resilience and motivation among community legal centre lawyers in Australia

·        Rakesh Anand: On the legitimacy of religious lawyering

·        Susan Carle: Consequences of the Exclusion of African American Women from the Legal Profession prior to 1920

2nd session

·        Rosemary Hunter: Judicial Diversity and the New Judge

·        Steven Vaughan: Gay lawyers and the English legal profession

·        Theresa Lynch: Black and Minority Ethnic Students and Mooting at Birmingham Law School: A Discussion Inspired by Basil Bernstein

Steven Vaughan and Theresa Lynch are members of the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research (CEPLER), Birmingham Law School ( http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/CEPLER/index.aspx ), which Hilary moved to as Research Director in April 2013.  Professional identity and values are key themes of the Centre, and we are always pleased to hear from colleagues who would like to visit us.  The Centre’s first book is due to be published in late 2014 by Hart:  The Futures of Legal Education and the Legal Profession http://www.hartpublishingusa.com/books/search.asp?st=2&s=The+Futures+of+Legal+Education+and+the+Legal+Profession , and pre-orders can now be made on Hart’s website.  Hilary is also Articles Editor of Legal Ethics – see http://www.hartjournals.co.uk/le/index.html  – and of course welcomes submissions on professional values and identities.

Ideas for panels at future meetings or research collaborations on any issue relating to professional identity and professional values would also be most welcome - to be sent to Dr. Hilary Sommerlad, Professor of Law, Research Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston B15 2TT, United Kingdom

E. H.A.K.Sommerlad@bham.ac.uk;     T. +44 (0) 1214144030


Activity Report 2014



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This page last updated 16 July 2014

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