Perceptions of Lawyers - a Transnational Study of Student Views on the Image of Law and Lawyers
31 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2006
This article reports a survey of first year law students (1Ls) on their first day of class in the United States, England, Scotland, Germany, Australia, and Argentina. The survey asked about the 1L's opinions of the prestige and honor of lawyers and whether lawyers deserve their incomes. It revealed that 1Ls had quite low opinions about whether lawyers were honorable, sometimes lower than the opinions held by the general public.
The survey also inquired about the sources of information students found helpful in forming their opinions. The 1Ls reported that the news, discussions with friends, and lawyers in the family were helpful. Surprisingly high numbers reported that popular culture sources had been helpful.
Numerous studies have shown that people's opinions are influenced by fictitious pop culture they have consumed (so-called media effects). In some countries (particularly the U. S. Germany, and Argentina), the 1L's opinions of lawyers' prestige, honor, and deserts were positively correlated to the amount of legal film and television shows they had consumed. In Scotland, they were negatively correlated. These relationships could suggest the presence of a media effect (meaning that the 1L's opinions were influenced by pop culture they had consumed).
This is a preprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in the International Journal of the Legal Profession(c)(2005) Copyright Taylor & Francis.
Keywords: student views of lawyers, popular culture
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation