The legal profession has been subject to increasing sociological and socio-legal investigation since the 1980s, although enquiry into the nature of the legal professions started much earlier. Some studies have examined lawyers’ role in society with particular focus on the maintenance of the rule of law and access to justice. Other have engaged with lawyer professionalism, legal ethics and lawyer regulation; yet more have engaged with the make-up of the legal profession, concerns about social reproduction and a lack of diversity in the profession. This chapter will address each of these themes through two thematic priorities in the sociology of the legal profession: segmentation within and stratification of the legal profession and the extent to which the profession is no longer, if it ever was, a single professional grouping with a shared purpose and professionalism.
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