'Lords of the Dance' as Double Agents: Elite Actors in and around the Legal Field

Journal of Professions and Organization, Forthcoming

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2016-17

26 Pages Posted: 5 May 2016

See all articles by Yves M. Dezalay

Yves M. Dezalay

University of Angers - French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

Bryant Garth

University of California, Irvine School of Law; American Bar Foundation

Date Written: May 4, 2016

Abstract

This article starts from the useful image of professions as “Lords of the Dance” playing central roles in constructing and managing institutions. Drawing on our own comparative research and Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological approach, we present an alternative and in part complementary analysis of the presumed phenomenon. We suggest that a focus on professions generally, the legal profession, or the professional services firm as the unit of analysis neglects the key role of a relatively small group of double agents and brokers, typified by elite lawyers or jurists who combine forms of social, familial, learned and political other capital with stature within the profession. These individuals broker institutional change in part through their professional stature but also on behalf of themselves and the interests that they represent. The model comes from law but can be found also with other groups, including a small number of investment bankers and business consultants. The article explores the genesis of this role through the interaction between legal fields and fields of state power in Europe, the role of the elite double agent in brokering change, and how it has evolved to privilege especially a relatively small number of professors in Germany, barristers in Great Britain, and French advocates – in each context acting both inside the law but also above, below, and around through their connections to other social groups. The conclusion of the paper seeks both to contrast the approach taken in this article to the literature on professions and organizations, and to suggest how this approach can be used also to examine the processes of U.S.-led globalization, where the counterpart elite jurist is the corporate lawyer statesperson.

Suggested Citation

Dezalay, Yves M. and Garth, Bryant, 'Lords of the Dance' as Double Agents: Elite Actors in and around the Legal Field (May 4, 2016). Journal of Professions and Organization, Forthcoming; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2016-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2775411

Yves M. Dezalay

University of Angers - French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) ( email )

3, rue Michel-Ange
Paris cedex 16, 75794
France

Bryant Garth (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
949-824-7230 (Phone)
949-824-0495 (Fax)

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-988-6575 (Phone)
312-988-6579 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
117
rank
232,363
Abstract Views
403
PlumX Metrics