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Social Capital and Constraints on Legal Careers

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Abstract:

This article focuses on the role of social capital in lawyers' careers by examining the career outcomes of Jewish lawyers. Although research on the legal profession has emphasized social capital as an inherently positive resource, this article conceptualizes social capital as multivalent, with the potential for both positive and negative effects. Drawing on five forms of social capital and examining four separate outcomes (type of practice setting, prestige of field of practice, satisfaction, and income), the analyses demonstrate that particular forms of social capital are indeed related to diverging outcomes. This study finds positive effects for the social capital that derives from reciprocity exchanges, but it also finds that the social capital built through dense social ties can lead to less successful professional settings. The conclusion explores the possibilities this raises for understanding the interplay between religion, capital, and legal careers.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5893.2006.00268.x

Affiliations: University of Toronto

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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