‘Public Professions and Private Practices’: access to the solicitors’ profession in the 21st Century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Publication details

JournalLegal Ethics
DateAccepted/In press - 7 May 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 17 Jun 2016
Issue number1
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)5-29
Early online date17/06/16
Original languageEnglish


Recruitment of trainee solicitors by largely commercial organisations provides the effective gateway to professional qualification for aspiring solicitors. Professional bodies and others have sought to distinguish solicitors from other legal service providers through reference to professionalism and ethics. In this article I present the findings from a survey of the applicant experience of the graduate recruitment process and interviews with the professionals involved in those processes. The research is situated within the literature on professional identity development. The main aims are to contribute to understanding of the way in which graduate recruitment may inform the construction of professional identities, with particular focus on notions of ethicality within that. These engagements come at a critical time for professional identity construction. Despite data suggesting applicant expectations that professionalism and ethics will be important in their future practice, these early encounters do little to support that view. The influence of selection activities most likely marks the beginning of longer-term experiences that diminish the significance of ethicality in notions of professionalism. The data identifies recruiter assumptions as to appropriate ethical character. There is also evidence that the recruitment process may actively undermine ideas such as independence as relevant to legal practitioners.

Bibliographical note

© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • Solicitors profession, Legal Ethics, Graduate Recruitment, Professional Identity Development


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