The Italian Lawyers’ Role Ambiguity: Users and Protagonists of the Civil Justice

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Luca VERZELLONI, Centro de Estudos Sociais, Coimbra, Portugal
What is the impact of lawyers on the functioning of civil justice? How does their behaviour affect the courts’ activities and the process of dispute resolution? What is the role of lawyers? And why do we still need to deal with one of the most studied professions in our society?

The paper is focused on the Italian civil justice. The article aims to introduce a new interpretative perspective to examine the complex and partially unexplored relations between lawyers and judicial offices. The basic hypothesis of this research is that the Italian lawyers have a sort of “role ambiguity”, since they are at the same time “users” and “protagonists” of the judicial service. Firstly, lawyers are “users”, given that they constitute the main beneficiaries of the services provided by the courts. Far from expressing a negative connotation, the term “user” defines the condition in which you find any lawyer who frequents the courthouse and its courtrooms. Secondly, lawyers are “protagonists” of the judicial service. They represent a fundamental “filter” between society and courts and they can contribute to the realisation of justice, i.e. dispute resolution, evolution of law and completion of judicial proceedings within a reasonable time. The article intends to develop a comparison between these two concepts, in order to discuss the role of lawyers in the civil justice field.

This paper is based on the results of an empirical study on the Italian legal profession. The analysis involved 16 lawyers of 3 law firms (Sigma, Kappa and Omega), specialized in labour and employment law. The case studies were selected on the basis of size and type of organisation. This research has used qualitative techniques, including document analysis, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and shadowing.