Lawyer specialisation - managing the professional paradox

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Moorhead, Richard Lewis (2008)
  • Publisher: Cardiff University
  • Subject: K1

Specialisation within professions poses some interesting questions that go to the heart of the professional project. Does specialisation undermine the value, rationale even, of the general professional qualification? Or is it a vehicle for intra-professional closure, a means of strengthening the competitive hand of the 'elite'? From the consumer perspective, is specialisation an unalloyed good? Is the way in which the legal professions manage specialisation consistent with them protecting the public or the professions’ interests? Utilising empirical data for a series of projects on legal aid programmes in the UK, this paper will examine the tensions between quality and access inherent in the notion of specialisation and consider some of the implications for professional theory and regulation. It will be argued that specialisation, which is a necessary trade-off between consumer interest and detriment, has been resolved by the profession in its own rather than the public’s interest.
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