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From Kinship to Magic Circle: The London Commercial Law Firm in the Twentieth Century

Item

Title

From Kinship to Magic Circle: The London Commercial Law Firm in the Twentieth Century

Date

2008

Volume

15

Bibliographic Citation

15 Int'l J. Legal Prof. 143 (2008)

Abstract

The authors trace the successive transformations of large London commercial law firm, which entered the 20th century as a small group of partners, typically from one or more family groups, surrounded by a large group of working class clerks who performed much of the 'professional work'. After mid-century this firm based on kinship and class hierarchy gave way to a larger firm consisting of non-kin partners selected meritocratically presiding over an increasing band of assistant solicitors and trainees recruited on the basis of their educational credentials and taking part in a promotion-to-partnership tournament. In the last decade of the century, the central institutions and understandings of this meritocratic firm gave way to a constellation of larger, less stable, and increasingly supra-national aggregations, in a setting pervaded by a fascination, both instrumental and narcissistic, with rank and image.