Further Thoughts on the Self-image of the Hungarian Attorneys
International Journal of Law and Society
Volume 1, Issue 4, December 2018, Pages: 137-149
Received: Oct. 1, 2018; Accepted: Nov. 8, 2018; Published: Dec. 26, 2018
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István H. Szilágyi, Faculty of Law and Doctoral School, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary
Andrea Jankó-Badó, Faculty of Law and Doctoral School, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary
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By analysing focus group and directed deep interviews, this paper highlights the professional self-image of Hungarian attorneys. A summary of legal historical, sociological and legal sociological findings on the current social position of this profession is found in the introduction. It further describes how the profession gained and lost its autonomy in the second part of the 19th and early 20th century, and regained it following the 1989 democratic transition. Relying mainly on a longitudinal comprehensive study of a research group led by Ágnes Utasi, the paper summarizes the changes in the profession in recent decades: tendencies in the social stratification within and in the recruiting background of the profession, and its overall decreasing social and political capital. This is followed by a theoretical discussion of the notion of “self-image” exposing its nature and content. The self-image of the profession is understood here as a tapestry of values, norms, descriptive cultural patterns, narratives and symbols, while sociological patterns can be discerned from the conduct of the members of the profession. Having presented the applied research method, the circumstances of the two focus group interviews and the directed deep interviews taken from the research group material recorded in the same year, the authors assess the attorneys’ ideas concerning their relationship to judges, clients, forensic experts and mediators. In the reflections, contradictions and divisions can be detected in three out of the four discussed topics. As for judges, while competition and criticism concerning professional competence on the attorneys’ side seemingly run parallel to the need for communication and cooperation, they are also on a collision course with it. Similar ambivalence can be experienced in the client/attorney relation. The reasons underlying this ambivalence were observed in the deficient and inconsistent market conditions of legal services and the lack of clarity in the professional self-image. With the transforming market constraints of legal services the latter may play a role in attorneys’ divided ideas of, and critical attitude towards, each other’s work and the internal relations of the profession. The only aspect where perceptions and opinions achieved a high degree of harmony was the relation to forensic experts and mediators, showing an unequivocally critical and dismissive attitude. The paper concludes by reflecting on the social factors underlying the perceived contradictions in the professional self-image.
Sociology of Legal Professions, Legal Culture, Professional Self-image, Qualitative Sociological Research Methods, Hungarian Attorneys
To cite this article
István H. Szilágyi, Andrea Jankó-Badó, Further Thoughts on the Self-image of the Hungarian Attorneys, International Journal of Law and Society. Vol. 1, No. 4, 2018, pp. 137-149. doi: 10.11648/j.ijls.20180104.11
Copyright © 2018 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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