AbstractThis thesis considers the relationship that solicitors maintain with their auxiliary profession - legal executives, and the strategies the professional associations seek to invoke to enable them to keep abreast of a changing legal marketplace. Recent years have seen considerable changes in the way that legal services are delivered and who delivers them. These shifts have taken place because of pressure from two powerful forces; the state and the market. Socio-legal research in the past has tended to focus on the traditional legal profession (and in particular solicitors), however external changes within any professional jurisdiction (such as legal service delivery) can prompt shifts in that system of professions. This changed situation within contemporary legal practice has presented legal executives with significant opportunities to further their, freshly energised, professional project. This thesis will examine how far ILEX has been able to take advantage of these opportunities and exploit them.
The changes in legal services that have occurred, represent considerable challenges to the vision of a lead profession with strong homogeneity, powerful autonomy over its jurisdiction, a settled and independent relationship with the state and exclusive rights to use its knowledge base. The way in which the Law Society and ILEX respond to these challenges will be important in helping us understand the role of a professional association within an increasingly fluid legal marketplace. Furthermore, the thesis is seeking to address the relevance of the 'power theories' to explain the position of a legal profession stripped of many of the traditional strategies available to classic professions.
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