Beyond the Guild: Lawyer Organizations and Law Making
Washington University Global Legal Studies Law Review, VOL. 18, 2019
74 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2019
Date Written: June 29, 2019
Lawyers throughout the world act to influence the law, not only through their individual actions, but through lawyer organizations. These organizations are often important interest groups that can powerfully shape not only law, but the justice system and the workings of government. Traditionally, lawyer organizations were essentially guilds that focused on the interests of its members. Today, lawyer organizations in many countries act to influence the law in additional ways. This article examines legal professions and their organizations in seven countries with very different political and legal systems. It explores when and why lawyer organizations seek to influence law, either by promoting change or opposing it. It also seeks to identify the factors that enable the organizations to act and the conditions that may prevent them from acting. The article identifies theories of organizations and theories of legal professions that may explain the reasons why lawyer organizations attempt to influence law. It then outlines the history of the legal professions and lawyer organizations in seven countries, their relationship to the courts and the state, and their view of their role in society. It describes some situations in which lawyer organizations in these countries acted to influence law and other situations in which the organizations stayed silent. The analysis reveals that in addition to acting to protect the guild’s interests, lawyer organizations sometimes act to influence the law for three additional overlapping reasons that seemingly go well beyond lawyers’ self-interests. The article concludes by attempting to more fully explain when lawyer organizations will act beyond the interests of the guild, and the constraints that prevent them from doing so.
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