ABSTRACT

The recent spate of work on the practice of business lawyering has begun belatedly to make up for the surprising neglect of the topic by sociologists of law, or social theorists generally. An important reason for the neglect of the consideration of lawyering as a process has been the predominance of structuralist perspectives in the sociological study of the legal profession. Furthermore, both theoretical perspectives and practical factors have led those sociologists who have attempted to analyse lawyer-client relations to concentrate on encounters with individual clients rather than the work of lawyers for business. The image of the lawyer as dealing essentially with the private problems of individual clients has become harder to maintain with the increased prominence, first in the US and then in many other countries, of the large, bureaucratized law firm specializing in commercial and business law (Galanter 1983; Galanter and Palay 1991), and the sharp­ ening of the division between lawyers who serve corporate clients and those with a practice predominantly of individuals (Heinz and Laumann 1 982).