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Influence and Issues in the Legal Community: The Role of a Legal Elite

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

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This article is the third and last in a series that has focused on the corporate actor elite of Chicago's legal community—those attorneys who practice law with and for the major business, social, civic, cultural, and charitable organizations in the city. In this paper, the focus is on the participation of the members of that elite in a series of issues that have arisen in both the legal community and the larger society in the recent past.

The article first examines the resources for collective decision making which the members of the corporate actor legal elite bring to the process of community issue resolution. It then examines in detail elite issue preferences and the patterns of elite participation in five professional and political issues. From this analysis an interesting “paradox of power” emerges: the elite is most successful on those issues in which it is least interested and active and least successful on those which most heavily attract its participation. The article concludes with a discussion of the reason for this paradox, basing its answer in larger sociological theories of the activation of different types of resources in different types of community conflict.

Research Article
Copyright © American Bar Foundation, 1981 

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1 See Robert Staughton Lynd & Helen Merren Lynd, Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1929), and id., Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1937).Google Scholar

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