Country lawyers: the impact of context on professional practice

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Praeger, Feb 12, 1990 - Law - 167 pages
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Country Lawyers explores and analyzes a special segment of the legal profession--lawyers practicing in rural areas, villages, small towns and cities. The first broad-based study of its kind, the volume focuses on lawyers practicing in the smallest settings in order to determine whether the practicing rural bar is as profoundly shaped by the environment in which it operates as the metropolitan bar has been shown to be in previous studies. Based on interviews with 201 attorneys from 116 different communities, this work identifies the structuring influences that operate in small-town settings and argues that the rural bar is shaped more by external forces than by the internal logic of the legal doctrine or fields of practice. Both practicing and aspiring attorneys will find Country Lawyers illuminating reading, as will social scientists interested in the impact of context on the conduct of professional practice. Landon begins by discussing the significance of the rural setting for the practice of law and offers a profile of the rural bar. Subsequent chapters are devoted to examining the results of the interview data in an attempt to determine the characteristics of rural practice and isolate the external influences that shape them. Because interviews were conducted in a city of 150,000 in addition to the smaller towns, Landon is able to analyze the impact of differences in scale on professional practice. Throughout his study, Landon compares his data from small settings and the middle-sized setting to Heinz and Laumann's landmark study of the metropolitcal bar in Chicago. The comparative approach enables a comprehensive analysis of the impact of community scale on law practice. Separate chapters are then devoted to entrepreneurial practice, status within the profession, the impact of context on the professional role, and the shaping of advocacy in country practice. A particularly interesting chapter compares the social values of rural and metropolitan lawyers. In his concluding chapter, Landon summarizes the study results, demonstrating that the rural bar can be most accurately characterized as extremely sensitive to--rather than independent of--external forces including the political, social, and economic structure of the surrounding community. Numerous tables illustrate points made in the text.

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The Significance of the Rural Setting for the Practice
A Profile of the Rural Bar
The Impact of Community Size on Professional

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