The Prestige of German Lawyers

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 4C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Stefan MACHURA, Bangor University, United Kingdom
The prestige of lawyers forms an object of prime interest for sociologists of law. It affects lawyers' ability to interact properly with clients and authorities, including the courts. The paper deals with the prestige of German lawyers on a number of key levels:

-        In popular legal culture

-        In opinion polls

-        How they are viewed by judges and lay judges

-        Which factors influence lawyer prestige.

For the last two aspects, the paper draws on results of own empirical studies.

On balance, the TV and film portray lawyers mainly as trustworthy and competent. Judges seem to rate lawyers by their performance in interacting with the court. Opinion polls show a reasonable level of trust in lawyers. In a telephone survey by the author, slightly negative effects of court and lawyer movies have been found. Personal experience with lawyers tended to also have a small negative impact on perceived trustworthiness of judges. The paper closes with reflections on the importance of professional ethics.