Special Issue "Where Are the Legal Professions Heading? Selected Papers of the International Working Group for Comparative Studies of Legal Professions"

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 February 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Benoit Bastard

Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique, CNRS / ENS Paris-Saclay, 61 avenue du Président Wilson, 94235 Cachan, France
Website | E-Mail
Interests: courts; lawyers; family justice; social intervention
Guest Editor
Dr. Luca Verzelloni

Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra, Colégio de S. Jerónimo, Largo D. Dinis - Apartado 3087, 3000-995 Coimbra, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Interests: legal professions; judicial innovation; southern european countries; organizational studies; judiciary; lawyers; judicial governance; judicial independence; quality of justice

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue represents a collection of selected papers of the International Working Group for Comparative Studies of Legal Professions. This call is addressed to all members of the different sub-groups:

  1. Ethics, Deontology;
  2. Family, policy and the Law;
  3. International Lawyering and Large Law Firms;
  4. Judiciary;
  5. Lawyers and Clients;
  6. Legal Aid;
  7. Legal Education;
  8. Legal Professional Values and Identities;
  9. Regulatory Reform;
  10. Women/Gender in the Legal Profession;
  11. Project 2018;
  12. Histories of Legal Professions;
  13. Lawyers and Imperialism.

This Special Issue is centered on a fundamental research question that characterizes the comparative studies on these topics: where are the legal professions heading? The focus is therefore on past, present, and, especially, future of the legal professions, both in Europe and outside Europe, in civil law and common law systems, in the north and south of the world. The legal professions, in fact, are facing important challenges, as expecially the issue of their internal heterogeneity—e.g., the gap between the now dominant business lawyers and the judicial bar, each one with different interests, ethics and regulations. This Special Issue aims to contribute to the current interdisciplinary debate on the legal professions, which represent the pivotal “protagonists” of interpretation and application of law, delivery of justice and protection of people’s rights.

Dr. Benoit Bastard
Dr. Luca Verzelloni
Guest Editors

Keywords

  • Legal Professions
  • Comparative Studies
  • Professional Ethics and Deontology
  • Family, Policy and the Law
  • International Lawyering and Large Law Firms
  • Judiciary
  • Lawyers and Clients 
  • Legal Aid
  • Legal Education
  • Legal Professional Values and Identities
  • Regulatory Reform
  • Gender in the Legal Profession
  • Lawyers and Society
  • Histories of Legal Professions
  • Lawyers and Imperialism

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Legal Profession in the Era of Digital Capitalism: Disruption or New Dawn?
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 24 December 2018 / Accepted: 28 December 2018 / Published: 4 January 2019
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Abstract
This article investigates the impact of what we label “digital capitalism” on the structure and organization of the legal profession. We explore whether the rise of digital capitalism is transforming the dynamics of the legal field by the introduction of new actors and [...] Read more.
This article investigates the impact of what we label “digital capitalism” on the structure and organization of the legal profession. We explore whether the rise of digital capitalism is transforming the dynamics of the legal field by the introduction of new actors and ways of practicing law, which might challenge the traditional control (and monopoly) of jurists on the production of law. We find that not only have new service providers already entered the legal market, but also new on-line tools for solving legal disputes or producing legal documents are gaining a foothold. Similarly, we also find that new intelligent search systems are challenging the role of junior lawyers and paralegals with regard to reviewing large sets of documents. However, big data techniques deployed to predict future courts’ decisions are not yet advanced enough to pose a challenge. Overall, we argue that these developments will not only change legal practices, but are also likely to influence the internal structure and organization of the legal field. In particular, we argue that the processes of change associated with digitalization is further accelerating the economization and commodification of the practice of law, whereby lawyers are decreasingly disinterested brokers in society and defenders of the public good, and increasingly service firms at the cutting edge of the capitalist economy. These developments are also triggering new forms of stratification of the legal field. While some legal actors will likely benefit from digitalization and expand their business, either by integrating new technologies to reach more clients or by developing new niche areas of practices, the more routinized forms of legal practice are facing serious challenges and will most likely be replaced by technology and associated service firms. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Pressure on Judges: How the Budgeting System Can Impact on Judge’s Autonomy
Received: 19 November 2018 / Revised: 5 December 2018 / Accepted: 13 December 2018 / Published: 19 December 2018
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Abstract
Performance-based budgeting is a label that groups different budgeting models, developed in the New Public Management era, that link the funding to the performance of agencies. If European justice systems have been unresponsive to apply managerial techniques to courts, this is particularly true [...] Read more.
Performance-based budgeting is a label that groups different budgeting models, developed in the New Public Management era, that link the funding to the performance of agencies. If European justice systems have been unresponsive to apply managerial techniques to courts, this is particularly true for modern budgeting techniques. Courts’ budgets have been, and still are in many cases, drafted only on historical costs, and, although important for the court functioning, it has been one of the most neglected subjects in court administration studies. In recent years, some countries have been developing new approaches to justice systems and court budgeting, using a “performance-based” budget perspective, which relates the courts’ budget to the efficiency results, setting specific performance targets. Although fundamental to ensure transparency, accountability, and proper resource allocation among courts, these approaches have an impact on judicial independence and autonomy, because they may put pressure on judges’ productivity and efficiency, to the detriment of quality. Building on two case studies, Finland and The Netherlands, this paper aims to analyze how, and to what extent, the “performance-based” budgeting system is influencing the functioning of courts and the autonomy of judges. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Reform of the Belgian Justice System: Changes to the Role of Jurisdiction Chief, the Empowerment of Local Managers
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 16 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 28 December 2017
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Abstract
The last waves of reform that affected, and continue to affect, the Belgian legal system led to an injunction for increased responsibility on the part of local managers, the jurisdiction chiefs. This tendency was initiated in the 1990s, with the introduction of a [...] Read more.
The last waves of reform that affected, and continue to affect, the Belgian legal system led to an injunction for increased responsibility on the part of local managers, the jurisdiction chiefs. This tendency was initiated in the 1990s, with the introduction of a managerial logic into the legal sphere, whereby local initiatives took precedence in the absence of any clear and binding direction. The 2014 reform project, through its three constituent pillars, led to the strengthening of this logic, to the point where it became an important subject. The jurisdiction chiefs were therefore confronted with a new type of responsibility in that they became responsible for the dissemination of managerial discourse within their local body, for the implementation of change, and, consequently, for the success of this change, while at the same time, being confronted by a state and by political authorities that preferred to take a back-seat role. By observing, from an exploratory perspective, the developments caused by this transformational dynamic with regard to the role and function of the jurisdiction chiefs, our contribution highlights the wide range of receptions and appropriations of the reform project, and the concepts supporting the founding trio of pillars, based on five emerging, empirically-established subjects. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Relevance of Criminal Courts in the Global South
Received: 14 September 2017 / Revised: 1 December 2017 / Accepted: 6 December 2017 / Published: 12 December 2017
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Abstract
The literature on comparative law has a long and robust tradition, but studies comparing courts and judicial systems are scarce. Comparative studies in the Global South, following Shapiro’s institutional approach, have aimed to measure the involvement of courts in politics by assessing the [...] Read more.
The literature on comparative law has a long and robust tradition, but studies comparing courts and judicial systems are scarce. Comparative studies in the Global South, following Shapiro’s institutional approach, have aimed to measure the involvement of courts in politics by assessing the power of the judiciary in society, the level of judicial independence, and their role in the context of the judicialization of politics. The focus was on the high courts, including either Constitutional or Supreme Courts. Criminal courts have not received similar attention despite the influence of their everyday decisions on people’s lives and their perception of the judicial system. This article argues that developing a comparative approach for criminal courts in the Global South is needed to help understand the role they play in the development of the rule of law and democratic life. This comparative study helps understand the impact of judicial reform programmes in the Global South. These reforms, inspired by a neoliberal paradigm, have focused on improving the efficiency of the courts. The reforms have promoted managerial techniques detrimental to the standards of due process. Any assessment of the impact of the reforms on the courts in the Global South should start by recognising the widely differing settings under which they operate. This context is characterised by serious economic constraints, such as a lack of material and human resources, and a democratic deficit legacy from the past authoritarian regimes, including widespread police abuse and corruption. Given this context, the role of the courts in ensuring due process and the legality of police procedures is crucial. The impact of the judicial reforms promoting managerial rationality in recent decades must be analysed. To examine the role courts are playing in criminal matters, two cases were explored where courts have undergone extensive judicial reforms, Argentina and the Philippines. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Gender Still Matters: Effects of Workplace Discrimination on Employment Schedules of Young Professionals
Received: 15 August 2017 / Revised: 30 October 2017 / Accepted: 21 November 2017 / Published: 27 November 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2056 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The influx of women into the legal profession has significantly changed the landscape of legal practice. Women lawyers today no longer face the challenges to entering the legal profession they encountered thirty years ago. However, despite these advancements, research continues to demonstrate that [...] Read more.
The influx of women into the legal profession has significantly changed the landscape of legal practice. Women lawyers today no longer face the challenges to entering the legal profession they encountered thirty years ago. However, despite these advancements, research continues to demonstrate that there are still gender-based issues women have to face in the legal workplace. Among these issues to date are the difficulties in combining responsibilities of work with responsibilities of families and children that underpin women’s employment and earning disadvantages. Using survey data from a national representative U.S. panel study of lawyers, we examine how work schedules, comparing full-time to part-time work, vary by personal disposition and workplace characteristics. Drawing from prominent explanations of gender inequality in the legal profession, we focus on inquiries of commitment to work, performance, ideal worker expectations, practice settings, and job satisfaction among dimensions of workplace characteristics and examine their effects on women and men lawyers’ work schedules. Logistic regression results show that work schedules significantly vary by gender, parental role, and experience of workplace discrimination. We find that, although all parents experience types of discrimination, there are still major differences in work schedules between mothers and fathers. Our study adds to the gender debate of employment and organizations by examining quantitatively experiences of workplace discrimination. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Multiple Competences of Judicial and Social Intervention: Portuguese Public Prosecutors in Action
Received: 15 June 2017 / Revised: 8 October 2017 / Accepted: 10 October 2017 / Published: 17 October 2017
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Abstract
Public Prosecutors have not received much attention from international, suprastate, state and/or associative institutions in terms of seeking to influence the adoption of a common organisational model by the most diverse countries. What we have instead is mainly the approval, at different moments, [...] Read more.
Public Prosecutors have not received much attention from international, suprastate, state and/or associative institutions in terms of seeking to influence the adoption of a common organisational model by the most diverse countries. What we have instead is mainly the approval, at different moments, of guiding principles for the exercise of functions—primarily of judges, but also, since the late 1980s, of Public Prosecutors—with special emphasis on issues of autonomy and impartiality regarding their competences and the conditions in which prosecution is carried out. However, in countries such as Portugal, Public Prosecutors exercise a wide range of competences in various legal areas, a fact that turns them into key actors in a context of evaluating the performance of the judicial system and when efforts are being made to improve its functioning, even in the midst of financial constraints. This is the backdrop to the present article, which stems from the need to discuss the functioning of the Public Prosecution Service and its professional practices in order to promote the circulation of ideas and solutions for possible judicial reforms in the model currently in force in Portugal. It is not a question of looking for the “perfect model” or of trying to achieve an “ideal synthesis,” but rather of highlighting the main aspects that can contribute to the defence of legality and the promotion of access to law and justice through the action of Public Prosecutors. In order to achieve such a goal, it is necessary for Public Prosecutors to assume a new paradigm, centred on the defence of citizenship rights. The main objective here is to discuss and reflect on the identity, competences and professional practice of Portugal’s Public Prosecutors in the context of major transformations in the judicial systems and in the legal professions themselves, both as key actors and as promoters of citizens' access to law and justice in the various legal areas in which they are active participants. The aim of this article is thus to analyse the way in which the Public Prosecutors’ exercise of their multiple competences, not only in relation to citizens but also with regard to their intermediary role between the courts and the various entities and professions at play, both public and private, contributes to achieving better justice for all. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Case Selection in the Russian Constitutional Court: The Role of Legal Assistants
Received: 17 July 2017 / Revised: 31 July 2017 / Accepted: 8 August 2017 / Published: 15 August 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (671 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Constitutional courts throughout the world are highly selective in forming their agenda. Scholars who have studied the setting of agenda have not reached agreement on the role of legal clerks in this process. This article focuses on the role of the Secretariat of [...] Read more.
Constitutional courts throughout the world are highly selective in forming their agenda. Scholars who have studied the setting of agenda have not reached agreement on the role of legal clerks in this process. This article focuses on the role of the Secretariat of the Russian Constitutional Court in the case selection process. The Russian Constitutional Court receives about twenty thousand petitions annually. Nevertheless, only dozens of them are decided on their merits by judges. Through the description of the case movement process we show that the Secretariat does have at least moderate influence on case selection. Using data received from observation and interviews with the Court’s staff and judges, we find that legal assistants’ decision on whether to promote a case to judges is based on different logics of decision making. First, they are bound by legal requirements. However, bureaucratic logic and the logic of appropriateness can also influence the amount of incentives to promote cases to judges. Full article
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