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File work, legal care, and professional habitus - an ethnographic reflection on different styles of advocacy

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This article contrasts two English solicitors' styles of file work and aims to spell out some of the styles' respective practical and ethical implications. What I call 'elaborate style' relates to the file as the primary means of casework, while the 'minimalist style' relates to the file in terms of a compulsory exercise. The contrasts in style are further explored by attempting a set of explanations for them. The paper seeks explanation by relating the styles to the respective cases filed, to gender differences in the legal profession, and to the professional habitus of either solicitor. In conclusion, the inquiry suggests an explanation involving the legal discourse served. There are good reasons for either style under certain pre-trial and trial procedures. To stick habitually to one style while moving towards another procedure may cause unwanted consequences.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Emmy-Noether Group, 'Comparative Micro-Sociology of Criminal Proceedings', Free University, Berlin, Germany

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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