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Intraprofessional Competition and Earnings Inequalities Across a Professional Chasm: The Case of the Legal Profession in Québec, Canada

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Intraprofessional rivalry has a long history. This article examines earnings disparities as a dimension of intraprofessional competition among avocats and notaires in the civil law system of Québec, Canada. Drawing on two large-scale surveys and in-depth interviews with legal professionals, I examine three competing perspectives of earnings inequalities: human capital, social-symbolic capital, and organizational-structural explanations. Through this analysis I seek to examine whether similar causal processes shape earnings across the two spheres of legal practice in Québec. The findings of this study clearly demonstrate that these two professional groups are equipped with differential stocks of capital, and conversion rates differ drastically. Avocats receive greater exchange on their investments in human and social-symbolic capitals. These disparities are most pronounced in sectors of the profession where jurisdictional frictions abound: among notaires and avocats working as solo practitioners and in small firms within competitive urban contexts. The article concludes with a discussion of theoretical extensions and future directions for the study of legal professionals in civil law systems and blended jurisdictions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Queen's University

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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