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Professional Identity

Professional Identity

Chapter:
(p.66) 4 Professional Identity
Source:
Lawyers of the Right
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226768366.003.0004

This chapter considers whether lawyers identified with the goals and constituencies they served and how differences in their personal backgrounds shaped their understanding of professional role. It draws primarily from lawyers' own accounts of their career histories and service to causes rather than any objective assessment of their motivations, commitments, and behavior. It shows that none of the lawyers fit either of the extreme models—the hired gun or the pure cause lawyer. However, many exemplify less radical versions of those competing conceptions of professionalism. Some emphasize service to clients delivered through markets, and others stress personal accountability and commitment to a cause. Those differences in professional orientation are, in turn, tied to professional hierarchies within the conservative movement. The more conventional conception of role draws together business lawyers and their moneyed clients, and promotes ties among elite lawyers across sectors and political lines. The cause lawyer model, on the other hand, insists on worthiness rather than financial reward or career development as the primary criterion for selecting clients. True believers tend to come from less elite backgrounds, to hold less fancy credentials, and to have fewer connections to the professional establishment.

Keywords:   lawyers, personal background, hired gun, pure cause, professional orientation, professionalism, conservatives, true believers

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