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English Lawyers between Market and StateThe Politics of Professionalism$
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Richard L Abel

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198260349

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198260349.001.0001

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Halting the Tide

Halting the Tide

(p.96) 3 Halting the Tide
English Lawyers between Market and State


Oxford University Press

All producers seek protection from the competition that is the defining characteristic of market economies. The first line of defence is control over entry. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Bar had long enjoyed professional status. It took the entire nineteenth century for the practising Bar to double, and it did not recover from the 25% loss suffered during World War I. After the Law Society required the first professional examination in 1836, the number of solicitors stagnated. However, the post-war era initiated a major transformation and starts at the Bar increased. In the late 1980s, however, the profession was concerned about a ‘recruitment crisis’, not overcrowding. Finally, the profession was no more able to control the ebb and flow of supply than Canute to halt the tide. Its efforts to do so during this decade further delegitimated its claim to speak in the public interest.

Keywords:   market economies, Bar, World War I, Law Society, solicitors

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